16 arrested in Bellevue prostitution sting

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16 men were arrested in a one-night undercover prostitution sting in Bellevue.

Bellevue Police say they were running an ‘uncover vice operation,’ targeting a recent demand in prostitution. Investigators posed as prostitutes on an online dating app and then arrange to meet with men at a Bellevue motel.

One suspect in particular had previously given statements to police saying he wanted to kill a prostitute. When he was arrested at the motel, detectives found two guns in his waistband.

The sting was carried out in a single night, and 16 men were arrested.

"Prostitution is not a victimless crime. Many sex workers become victims of robbery, assault and rape," said Cpt. Shelby Shearer. "But in this case, we very easily could have prevented something bad from happening."

Police say the suspects agreed to pay between $80–$280 for sex, and many brought sex paraphernalia, alcohol and narcotics.

"Any comprehensive approach to combating human trafficking must include dealing with the demand, which is why we conduct the vice stings," said Shearer. "We want to send the clear message to these suspects, don’t engage in prostitution, and certainly don’t do it in Bellevue."

Patronizing a prostitute is a misdemeanor, and suspects are required to attend a 10-week ‘Stopping Sexual Exploitation’ program.

"Our ongoing investigations show that countless people are being trafficked and commercially sexually exploited in the City of Bellevue. We have identified children, domestic violence victims, foreign nationals, and other highly vulnerable and marginalized people who are being harmed through the illicit sex trade," said Shearer. "We continue to identify these victims and try to connect them with services. We remain steadfast in addressing the demand for commercial sex, which fuels the sex trafficking industry. We will continue to hold sex buyers accountable for the harm they are perpetuating in the community."

If you or someone you know is a victim of human sex or labor trafficking, you are encouraged to contact Bellevue Police at ViceHT@bellevuewa.gov. Call 911 if you are in immediate danger.

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