A month-long prostitution sting labeled "Operation Flush the Johns," netted 104 men in Long Island, N.Y., Nassau County, authorities announced Monday.
The men allegedly attempted to solicit sex from a prostitute via an online ad. When the suspects arrived in the prearranged hotel room, they were greeted by an undercover cop posing as a prostitute and subsequently arrested.
According to authorities, the sting operation was an attempt to suppress Long Island’s black-market sex trade.
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Doctors, lawyers, bankers, dentists, and teachers were among those arrested
, the Long Island Press reported.
"My hope is that this will dry up the demand for prostitution," Nassau Country District Attorney Kathleen Rice told reporters during a news conference Monday at her office in Mineola. "These are not victimless crimes . . . They put themselves on the board and they are going to have to explain."
The men ranged in age from 17 to 79
. The sting operations – 8 in total – were conducted between April 18 and May 24, the New York Daily News reports.
The online sex ads arranged by undercover cops offered services from both male and female prostitutes.
The fictitious female prostitute, named Amber, was described as a "girl next door" who is "very open minded," while the male gigolo, named Dylan, described himself as a "down to earth guy who has a secret wild side," the Daily News reported.
Hidden camera captured each hotel room rendezvous, where the johns were reportedly videotaped giving over between $50 and $100 for various sex acts.
The focus on the johns rather than prostitutes represents a shift away from most local law enforcement attempts to curtail illegal sex operations over the past decade, the Long Island Press notes. Generally prostitutes themselves, and not their clients, are the ones arrested by police.
The photos of the men were later released by Nassau County police to media outlets.
After receiving some pushback for releasing the photos prior to the men standing trial for the crime, Rice quickly dismissed the idea that any of the men arrested in the sting were victims.
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"This whole concept of looking at johns as victims — they’re not victims!" exclaimed Rice to reporters. "They’re further exploiting and victimizing trafficked women and men."
The suspects have all pleaded not guilty to third-degree patronizing a prostitute and face one year in jail if found guilty.
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