Local News

Police Go Undercover to Stop Prostitution Near RDU Airport

Posted November 21, 2007 5:31 p.m. EST
Updated November 22, 2007 10:53 a.m. EST

— Prostitutes have been setting up shop near RDU International Airport, according to authorities.

Morrisville and Cary police say the women are hooking up with customers online and then meeting at hotels near the airport. Investigators are going undercover to stop it.

“There’s a number of Web sites you can go to and shop for this sort of activity,” said Morrisville Police Sgt. Mike Ballard.

Police say Craigslist is one of those Web sites. On Wednesday, under "erotic services," there were 224 posts from women soliciting men in the Triangle.

Morrisville and Cary police have arrested 20 people recently on prostitution charges, mostly at local hotels.

Police say the proximity of the hotels to the airport and Interstate 40 has made them a convenient and popular location for prostitution. Investigators say prostitutes are coming to the Triangle from as far away as Las Vegas, Miami and New York to take advantage of the demand.

“We've learned that they actually network just like anybody else does, any other business does. And they talk to one another, and they'll let other girls know where the honey's good, if you will,” Ballard said.

Attorney Bill Young represents seven of the people who were arrested.

“Usually, the officer is going to a location where the lady is or (is) saying she is. Or the lady is being invited to a location where the officers are already set up,” Young said. “It's unusual there would be a focus on this. It's the world's oldest profession. It's always been there.”

Authorities said they focus on the potential danger into which the women put themselves.

“We try to convey to them that we're doing this for their safety as much as anything, as well as making Morrisville a better place to live,” Ballard said.

Investigators say the women face simple misdemeanor charges, which usually means they pay a fine and serve no time in jail. Authorities say it's a lucrative industry, with the women charging as much as $450 an hour.

The hotels have been cooperating fully with the investigation, police said.