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Downers Grove police attribute recent prostitution arrests to FBI initiative

Published: Wednesday, July 23, 2014 4:34 p.m. CST • Updated: Friday, July 25, 2014 4:34 a.m. CST

DOWNERS GROVE – The spike in prostitution-related arrests this summer in Downers Grove is partially the result of an annual FBI sting assisted by the Downers Grove Police Department.

The FBI's Operation Cross Country took place in mid June, with a goal of rescuing juveniles who have been pressed into sex work, and prosecuting their pimps, according to an FBI press release.

During the sting, FBI agents and local law enforcement answer online posts that advertise sex services in Downers Grove, according to Downers Grove Police Sgt. Harry Andler.

The alleged prostitutes are then arrested when they arrive at the rendezvous point, typically a local hotel. None of the women arrested were from Downers Grove.

As a part of the sting, police made several prostitution-related arrests at Downers Grove Comfort Inn, including a 19-year-old from Milwaukee, a 28-year-old and 25-year-old from Lisle and a 22-year-old from Calumet City.

No arrests of juveniles for prostitution-related charged were reported by police during the sting.

Andler said the Downers Grove Police department continued the effort following their cooperation with the FBI, leading to the arrests of a 20-year-old woman July 16 at the Extended Stay America.

On July 11, officers charged a 45-year-old Rockford woman with keeping a place of prostitution, unlawful possession of marijuana and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia at the Red Roof Inn in Downers Grove, after an officer observed a man in a car call a woman standing outside her first floor room.

Police questioned the man and matched the number he called to an online advertisement. He was not charged, and he claimed he met the woman at the Yorktown Shopping Center.

Earlier that afternoon, a 42-year-old woman from Rockford was also arrested at the same hotel and charged with keeping a place of prostitution, possession of drug paraphernalia and unlawful possession of marijuana.

"I think the goal behind it is to deter people from coming to the Downers Grove area to solicit these types of services," he said. "Our effort in this area is always going to be continuous and ongoing as long as people keep posting these ads and targeting these areas."

At least three other woman have been charged with prostitution-related offenses in Downers Grove this year, according to police reports.

He said the police only target ads of suspected prostitutes who specifically market their services towards Downers Grove. The local hotels are are notified ahead of the operation.

Red Roof Inn, Comfort Inn and Extended Stay management either did not return calls for comment or referred requests to corporate offices.

Andler said it's difficult to quantify if there is more or less sex work activity in the area, because police are only able to crack down on the ads they find.

"In general, this would be kind of status quo," he said. "That's why we do our continuous enforcement of it."

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