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Prostitution has plagued the Midtown community for 30 years or more, according to resident Peggy Denby, president of the Midtown Ponce Security Alliance. The operation arrested 50 male prostitutes, 11 female prostitutes and 8 johns.
Five people were arrested for marijuana sales and five for cocaine sales. Officers posed as johns, as well as prostitutes, in the area bounded by 10th Street, North Avenue, Boulevard and Spring Street. The unit regularly conducts stings around the city, but decided to target Midtown after seeing a 22 percent increase in prostitution cases from last year.
They are hard-core criminals. Kreher said prostitutes often are involved in drug activity and crimes including aggravated assault. Thursday night, one man arrested for prostitution got so angry he kicked out an interior door of the prisoner transport vehicle. She said the Midtown Ponce Security Alliance started its private patrols in to combat prostitution in the neighborhood. After the first weekend of the operation, when 39 people were arrested, Kreher said Zone 5 -- which covers Midtown, downtown, Old Fourth Ward and Castleberry Hill -- saw a decrease in crimes such as car break-ins.
Female police officers dressed as prostitutes walked Ponce Friday night to target the corridor. The women hung around places such as the , as well as along the dead-end street behind the. Many of the women prostitutes along Ponce are repeat offenders and heavy drug users, police said.
Zone 5 officers said they know many by name -- "Fritz," "Dunwoody," and "Ms. Jackie" are a few of the nicknames. Another hotspot for prostitution is around Piedmont Avenue and 3rd, 4th and Juniper streets. Denby said most of the prostitutes there are transgender people. She lived at 6th and Juniper streets and has dozens of photos of scantily-clad transgender people soliciting for sex in the area. The first arrest Thursday night was a man walking near Piedmont Avenue and 4th Street.