A 22-year-old Kenyan man was among eight suspects arrested following a prostitution sting operation in Lowell, Massachusetts on Saturday night.
The Lowell Sun reports that the police swoop was in response to complaints by the community about prostitution in some parts of the city.
In a report, the Lowell Police Department said its Special Investigations Section conducted a “prostitution sweep” in the Back Central and Highlands neighborhoods, leading to the arrest of four men and four women. Seven of the arrests occurred in the Back Central neighborhood.
The four men were identified as Cypher Anderson, 22, of East Boston, 22-year-old Kenyan Kelly Warui of Newton, New Hampshire, Uyhout Eav (24) of Lowell, and Williams Guzman (43) of Lowell. The four were charged with attempting to hire a prostitute.
41-year-old Lisa Blake of Lowell was charged with offering sex for money while two other female suspects had their charges of sexual conduct for pay dismissed following arraignment. The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office did not provide the reason for the charges being thrown out.
Police said a fourth woman was charged on an outstanding warrant during the operation.
All the suspects were arraigned before Lowell District Court by Judge Daniel Crane on Monday and were each released on their own recognizance with return dates scheduled in June.
Officers organized the operation following concerns raised by neighborhood groups and the City Council about prostitution being visible on city streets, according to Interim Police Superintendent Barry Golner. He noted that the sweep was carried under the direction of Capt. Frank Nobrega, who is the head of the department’s investigative services
Court documents show that as part of the sweep, detectives would sit in vehicles posing as “Johns” before making contact with a suspect offering sex for money, then other officers move in and make an arrest.
Police also conducted reverse stings, which had female police officers pose as streetwalkers. They wait until a John propositions them before more police officers move in to make an arrest.
“This is something the police department used to do more of, but like anything, it’s manpower and funding to conduct operations and a lot of planning, so we want to make sure we do things right,” Golner said.