On March 26 and 27, the Bellevue Police vice unit, along with detectives from the King County Sheriff's Office, conducted a sting operation at Bellevue area hotels. The operation was conducted in response to numerous complaints from citizens as well as hotel representatives of a marked increase in prostitution activities.
This operation focused on reducing demand in sex trafficking, which is a priority for the King County Prosecutor's office as well as for the Bellevue Police.
A total of 10 arrests were made as a result of this operation. The men were arrested for patronizing a prostitute, a misdemeanor offense. Included in the arrests was an individual considered to be a dangerous felon.
A 24 year old Lynnwood resident and prolific identity thief was arrested after agreeing to meet an undercover officer. The suspect gave officers a stolen ID, assaulted an officer, and attempted to flee while in handcuffs. The suspect was booked into the King County jail on $100,000 bail in outstanding arrest warrants. In addition, the suspect has also been charged with felony assault on a police officer, escape and identity theft. He is being held on an additional $100,000 bail related to those charges. The suspect is believed to be responsible for several felonies throughout the Puget Sound region, including an attempt to elude Seattle officers in a stolen vehicle and numerous identity theft cases, burglaries and motor vehicle thefts. He was slated to be added to the list of Washington's Most Wanted the day after his arrest due to his elusive nature.
"This operation demonstrates that prostitution is not a victimless crime, and is often associated with other criminal activity, including dangerous felonies," said Lt. Lisa Patricelli. "Because of this operation, a dangerous felon is off our streets and numerous cases can now be filed against him."
About the Bellevue Police Vice Unit
Bellevue Vice is one of the units in the Investigations Section. It was created in 2011 in response to an increase in citizen complaints related to massage parlors, prostitution in hotels and apartments and human trafficking. One full-time detective was initially assigned to this unit and a second one was added to the unit in 2014 due to the increased vice-related complaints.
This unit is headed by a detective lieutenant and two full-time vice detectives. Stopping human trafficking is a priority for city and officials, and rightfully so. Bellevue Vice has done an outstanding job of partnering with many agencies to enhance its' effectiveness. Partners include; the state Department of Health, Code Enforcement, prosecutors, local law enforcement and a federal task force.
The focus of Bellevue Vice is not only to target criminal violations associated with prostitution, but also to educate our community partners and to assist victims involved in the sex trade industry. Bellevue Vice investigators in partnership with the King County Prosecuting Attorney's office are also starting to focus more on the demand side of enforcement via "John Stings," with an emphasis on those offenders intent on exploiting minors involved in the sex trade.
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