Alaska News

Valley prostitution bust called significant

PALMER -- Ten men were arrested last week in a prostitution sting being called the first of its kind in the Mat-Su.

The bust, made by the Palmer and Wasilla police departments with help from the FBI and Anchorage police, was part of a national push to find underage victims of prostitution or human trafficking.

While prostitution arrests may be fairly common in Anchorage, the extent of the bust was major for the Valley, said Palmer Police Detective Sgt. Kelly Turney.

Police placed ads for adult services on Craigslist and other sites, Turney said. The johns responded to the ads. No child victims turned up, Turney said, but investigators interviewed the men to see if they had further information about children and prostitution, he said.

Prostitution in the Valley is a largely invisible but real crime, said Turney, who said he was "amazed" at the numbers of calls that came in after police placed the ads.

"There's no real main strip here. It's definitely there under the surface," the detective said. "A lot of people either don't know it's there or don't want to look underneath the rug to see it's there."

Johns arrested in the sting Oct. 20 and 21 range in age from 18 to 58, according to police. Three of the men live in Anchorage or Eagle River, the rest in Palmer or Wasilla. More than $2,100 in cash and 10 cell phones were seized as evidence, police said.

Anchorage Daily News /