Police bust prostitution operations across Kitsap with military connections
Four women, so far, have been arrested in recent prostitution busts across Kitsap County. The Johns from the investigations, however, are not currently being charged — a considerable number of them have connections to the military.
“Our focus is on the business operations, removing the workers from that industry whether they may be there voluntarily or involuntarily,” said Lt. Jon Vangesen with the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office. “And then holding the business owners accountable. We’re more concerned about that end of things, the human trafficking, promoting prostitution. But we are looking at all angles with the customers as well, which is why we have involved the military to look at the employment issues with those folks.”
“I think it’s a lot larger than we accomplished (Thursday),” Vangesen said of the investigation, noting that the busts were just the first step.
“A couple of the massage parlors were connected in their ownership rank, so to speak, and we are aware that they are connected to other massage parlors in the region as well,” he said.
The Kitsap Sun reports that the 18 month long prostitution investigation led to multiple arrests at massage businesses in Bremerton, Silverdale, and Poulsbo. More arrests are likely as the case continues. Four women were arrested Thursday, ages 51, 54, 57, and 61. Charges range from misdemeanors and promoting prostitution.
A fifth woman remains at large, according to Vangesen. That person is wanted for prostitution. Two of the women had more of a leadership role at the businesses.
“Two of the women who were arrested were arrested for prostitution, for facilitating sex acts for money,” Vangesen said. “Two other women were also arrested for prostitution, but in addition to that they were arrested for promoting prostitution by advancing or profiting form the acts of themselves or others.”
Vangesen says that the women encountered through the investigation, who were not arrested, have been connected with victim services.
The Naval Criminal Investigative Services took part in the investigation due to the considerable number of military and Department of Defense employees who allegedly paid for sex at the businesses.
“Then detectives were involved in surveillance which they established a signification military nexus,” Vangesen said. “Be it that there were active duty military frequenting those establishments, and DOD employees and contractors. During undercover operations, officers were able to obtain offers and agreements for sexual acts for money.”
Lt. Vangesen says that the activity at the massage businesses were so visible, that police were tipped off by a range of sources, from neighboring residents, businesses and customers.
“They were busy enough to get the attention of the neighbors and the neighboring residents…” Vangesen said. “There were a lot of clients, and a majority of those, a good portion of those, were found to be connected to the US military in many ways in our area.”