Lebanon — The city police department this week is publicizing 14 arrests made in a recent prostitution sting to discourage the sex trade within Lebanon. Police on Monday sent out a news release that included mug shots and criminal charges against the suspects arrested in the multiweek operation.
Between May 9 and June 23, police arrested 14 people — eight of whom are from the Upper Valley — and charged them with either prostitution or soliciting prostitution, along with drug possession and a variety of other charges. The nine men charged face a single misdemeanor count of soliciting prostitution, while the five women face a single misdemeanor prostitution charge.
In the operation, Lebanon officers posted and responded to offering or seeking prostitution on websites such as back. Mello said the of text messages, calls and s investigators received when posting offering sex for money was overwhelming.
Mello called prostitution an ongoing problem in the Upper Valley, but said that police had not observed an increase in incidents prior to the sting operation.
Police have received complaints from hotels about a parade of people coming and going from some guest rooms, Mello said. Canaan police in April set up a similar sting and arrested three men who allegedly agreed to pay money for sex acts. In the past, Hartford police also have set up operations targeting prostitution, particularly in hotels near the interstate.
Mello acknowledged he has focused more resources than police chiefs on issues such as online prostitution and other Internet-releated crimes since taking the reins of the Lebanon department in December. And some of the illicit acts, Mello said, occur in city parks and in cars that are parked in neighborhoods and the parking lots of businesses.