Parkway prostitution sting has new targets

FRESNO, Calif.

Officers have been hitting up hotels on Parkway Dr., between Belmont and Olive. The area is well known as the central location for prostitution in Fresno -- despite being home to some nationally known chains like Motel 6 and Days Inn. But police are trying to change the perception, and they're enlisting the help of motel owners.

"I think it is time to get this cleaned up and taken care of," said Parkway resident Michael Thompson. "Definitely."

On Parkway, it's never hard to find someone willing to exchange sex for money - day or night. Prostitution is a thorn in the side for some of the people who own motels along the road right off Highway 99. But for others, it's the cornerstone of their business.

"Some of them are willing to allow that kind of activity to occur?" an ABC-30 reporter asked Thompson.

"Yeah," he said. "There are some right next door and down a little further. It goes on constantly."

Thompson is one Parkway resident who's sick of it, and Fresno police have responded to a series of complaints. They've arrested several prostitutes, pimps and johns, but their real targets are not on the streets at all.

Sgt. Greg Noll is leading a team of officers going door-to-door with a warning to motel owners. "Here's the notice," he said as he left one motel. "Make sure you're not catering to prostitutes in your hotel, ok?"

Police are threatening to enforce a city municipal code making it illegal to allow prostitution in your business. Motel owners could face fines up to $10,000.

"It's going to actually have an impact immediately," Sgt. Noll said. "Every time we do operations, it seems like it clears up for a short time."

Investigators are also checking motel log books to try and track the people involved in illicit activity.

In the last month, police have made 35 arrests for prostitution-related crimes in the Parkway area. But they're hoping the pressure on motel owners will be the most effective tool in shutting down the prostitution business.

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