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SPD arrests 139 men in week-long undercover sexual exploitation sting on Aurora Avenue

The Seattle City Attorney’s Office is reviewing cases against 139 adult men arrested in an undercover sexual exploitation sting on Aurora Avenue.

SPD’s Vice and High-Risk Victims Unit targeted sex buyers from June 24 through July 1, “in response to continued community complaints regarding heavy prostitution activity along the Aurora corridor and repeat reports of violent crimes, including rape, robbery and assault, committed by sex buyers against the women they prostitute.”

According to the City Attorney’s Office:

One hundred thirty-nine adult males were arrested and booked into King County Jail for Sexual Exploitation, a misdemeanor. One juvenile male was arrested for Sexual Exploitation and Resisting Arrest and released to the custody of his father. Sexual Exploitation is the crime of paying or agreeing to pay for someone to engage in sexual conduct.

The men arrested included: a convicted child molester registered as a sex offender, currently on probation and in treatment; a formerly registered sex offender; a man with methamphetamine on his person, and a man who brought with him a firearm, knife and handcuffs.

SPD led a similar operation in 2016 in which 204 men were arrested for Sexual Exploitation. The City Attorney’s Office has reviewed those cases and is currently prosecuting them. One of the men arrested in the recent operation had been arrested in the 2016 operation.

This year’s operation in a storefront on North Aurora was just one of ongoing enforcement efforts targeting sexual exploitation. SPD Vice/High-Risk Victims Unit also regularly enforces prostitution laws to identify and recover juvenile and adult victims of commercial sexual exploitation, often partnering directly with service providers.

In 2012, the CAO officially recognized that prostitution is not a victimless crime. Sex buying causes harm. Not only do the pimps and traffickers cause the harm — the buyers cause harm.