December 11, 2004 - When the 42-year-old man pulled up to the woman pacing Main Street in Mesa late Friday night, he had one thing on his mind.
"Are you looking for a date?" the woman asked.
"Yup," he said. "I’ve got $25 and $60 in glass," he offered her, referring to methamphetamine drugs.
With a deal made, the woman, an undercover Mesa police officer, gave the signal and two patrol cars zoomed in to make the eighth arrest of the night.
Undercover officers posed as prostitutes on the corner of Alma School Road and Main Street in the second sting in two months as part of a crackdown on the rise in area prostitution.
Eight men from 21 to 66 years old were arrested on suspicion of soliciting a prostitute late Friday, and more arrests were expected through the night.
"They shop around and go up and down Main looking for girls," Mesa Lt. Andy Alonzo said.
While only eight were arrested, about three times as many made contact with an undercover officer. Many got cold feet, didn’t want to pay for her services or nervously asked if she was a cop.
More than 100 residents, business owners, and community leaders met with police last week to discuss a longterm solution to prostitution in their neighborhood.
Police hope that an increased effort to pull johns off the street will make the prostitutes and drug dealers move on, too.
"We are making an impact, because we aren’t seeing repeat offenders," Alonzo said. "But I think it’s going to take a little while before we see the effects. But it is a deterrent."
Alonzo said prostitutes have become more organized on Main Street, communicating with each other via cell phones when police are working in the area.
"Many of the Main Street prostitutes are getting more sophisticated in what they are doing, like using motel rooms exclusively," he said.
Seven of the eight men were booked into Mesa City Jail. A 66-year-old man was cited and released because of medical problems.
Prostitution and soliciting a prostitute are class 1 misdemeanors in Mesa, punishable by up to a $2,500 fine, three years probation and 180 days in jail.