FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Ten men were arrested for allegedly attempting to solicit sex from a prostitute who was actually an undercover officer in Fort Myers.
Fort Myers Police officers conducted the sting operation on Cleveland Avenue between Hanson Street and Carrell Road, in which they arrested the following men:
- 56-year-old Jorge Lopez-Escalona
- 56-year-old Edilio Hernandez-Sanchez
- 22-year-old Yuniel Capdesuner
- 65-year-old Kenneth Calvin Hubers Jr.
- 61-year-old Paul John Whitear
- 34-year-old Amitha Akpovonia Omonuwa ** UPDATE: Record show that Mr. Omonwa has since complete a pre-trial diversion program and his charges have been dropped.
- 68-year-old Billy Sherman Whidden
- 63-year-old Hement Patel
- 41-year-old Joel Santiago-Zamora
- 47-year-old Guillermo Galindo Coliote
Lt. Jay Rodriguez at the Fort Myers Police Department tells Fox 4 the busy nature of U.S. 41, Cleveland Avenue makes the illegal activity easier for prostitutes; for example, the amount of red lights and pedestrian traffic on the street.
Their goal with this operation was to arrest clients buying these services, hoping driving down demand will cause the prostitution business to dwindle "It's illegal on both sides. It's illegal on the supply side, and it's illegal on the demand side," said Lt. Rodriguez. "If business isn't good, they're going to move somewhere else."
Most businesses along the street said the activity is not welcome. Some motels in the area said they have to trespass sex workers from their properties at times because they knock on doors looking for clients.
Other working people in the area said they've seen the problem too. "For me, I want people to feel comfortable when they walk into our business as opposed to 'that's an area of our town I don't want to travel to,'" said Sterling Golden at a local dry cleaner.
However, he said since FMPD has started cracking down on prostitution, he's seen it less, especially over the last nine months. "I've seen less people walking up and down the streets who are not doing something legal. So would I say FMPD is doing a great job? Absolutely."
Some did mention the need for tougher penalties when it comes to prostitution activity, saying after a short period in jail, they've seen sex workers continue working. A sex worker who didn't wish to be identified even told Fox 4 she was picked up once, and was able to get back to work the next day.