Undercover Investigation on Fresno Prostitutes

FRESNO, Calif.

During our month long investigation, even wet weather didn't stop the number of cars coming and going. Friday at lunchtime, we found several cars still driving through slowly without ever stopping.

Just one day after our Action News investigation into a new way of selling sex in West Central Fresno -- we saw traffic much lighter in the parking lot of the Parkside Inn -- and there was no sign of the women standing in doorways or windows. The activity had been steady until our story aired.

Linda Avila works at a business near one of the motels police targeted for a prostitution bust. When we talked to her last week she said there's no question what's been going on here ... the store front type operations invite men of all ages.

"It's amazing that the people in the hotel would even allow it with all the businesses and residential areas around here but they do," said Avila.

Action News captured the activity ... for four weeks our cameras were rolling on the brothel style operations that are now the popular form of prostitution.

Despite repeated police crackdowns, business is flourishing. But the stepped up efforts have not ended prostitution, merely moved the problem to another location using a different tactic.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said, "I think the only way to eliminate prostitution is to eliminate sin and that's not gonna happen. There are some crimes that have been around since the beginning of time and prostitution is one of them."

Last week Fresno Police tackled two motels where prostitution became prevalent. It took undercover officers just minutes to negotiate deals with prostitutes. But, the offenses are misdemeanors. The women won't spend a minute in jail unless they have a warrant or other violation.

We confronted the motel managers ... they denied any knowledge of the prostitution operations.

Random police stings aim to keep prostitution under control but it's difficult since demand is driving business.

This past year police made a record number of arrests for prostitution related crimes. Some people we talked to out here assume that's what brought about the new preferred way of doing business.

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