Motel Drive Prostitutes Change Their Strategy

FRESNO, Calif. They stand in doorways or in windows. A smile and wave greets those passing by.

This isn't the red light district in Amsterdam, famous for legalized prostitution; this is West Central Fresno, a place where blocks of rooms are filled with women ready to meet your every need.

"It's like a drive through people drive through really slow and some go one way and some come the other and I mean it's amazing what happens in there," said Linda Avila.

Linda Avila sees it every day. She works right across the street from one of the busier motels.

Action News spent four weeks watching and recording sex for sale out in the open along Olive and Parkway Drive. The busiest times are during the lunch hour and after work.

Monique Peters says the problem is obvious just driving through the areas notorious for prostitution.

"The only way that you could come to this street and not know what's going on is if you are blind," said Peters.

Fresno Police say using motel room windows as storefronts is becoming the trendy way of conducting business. It's more lucrative than walking the streets and it's much safer. It's a one stop shop for customers. Plus, moving men through is fast. This man stayed just five minutes. We timed him.

The brothel type atmosphere has really grown in popularity over the past several months ever since Fresno Police did a major crackdown. They handed out a record number of tickets to prostitutes, johns and pimps."

At times traffic gets congested in the parking lot of this motel as dozens of men drive through. Some men try to be more discreet, parking nearby and walking over.

We confronted the manager at the Parkside Inn to see what he knows about the apparent prostitution operation here.

Sontaya asks, "What do you think about all the men that come here and just drive around repeatedly? You've never noticed that?"

Manager Hitesh Dave replies: "I cannot, I cannot, like. I cannot see all the time. Like when I'm inside, I cannot see this way."

Sontaya asks, "But don't you have a surveillance system?"

Manager replies: "We have but that is like rotating and we are not watching like particular man or someone."

But Fresno Police are watching, and they're disturbed by the increasing number of children being lured into the business.

Of the 300 plus citations written in 2009, 13 were written to juveniles under 18. Several were 13-year-old girls.

Last week police showed up with more undercover officers and more tickets in hand.

No juveniles were nabbed this time. But a 21 year old was taken to jail after police say she offered sex to a plain clothes officer. She's been arrested for prostitution in the past and as terms of her probation was not supposed to be in this area.

The motel trend is frustrating to police especially after their lengthy operations targeting prostitution.

"It was almost a way of thumbing their nose at law enforcement, setting up their hotel rooms as almost a storefront, where you could come by, choose the prostitute you wanted and then engage in sexual activity That's pretty brazen, but they will not get away with it," said Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.

Activity will typically settle down for just a few days after a bust until the men start cruising through again. The "Amsterdam dances" follow, and it's back to business.

One thing is clear, demand is high. Making quick cash is easy and misdemeanor tickets aren't enough of a deterrent to discourage men or women from turning away.

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