4 On Your Side investigates teen prostitution

Posted at: 12/20/2012 2:46 PM
Updated at: 01/07/2013 1:01 PM
By: Gadi Schwartz, 4 On Your Side

It's just before 6 p.m. at an upscale Santa Fe hotel and the hooker is running five minutes early.

"They are never early," remarks one detective.

As the girl walks into the hotel room, undercover police cameras are rolling. She walks over to the dresser, inspects the money and then takes off most of her clothing.

Santa Fe police detectives swarm the room.

"She's 16, going on 17," Sgt. Andrea Dobyns says after checking her I.D. "Her birthday is tomorrow."

For months detectives with Santa Fe's Crimes Against Children Unit have been tracking young looking women posting escort ads on popular websites like Backpage and Craigslist.

Detectives sit with the girl and investigate whether she is being forced into sex trafficking by anyone else. The girl tells police she is alone, and detectives call her mother.

"She obviously pissed, right?" asks the girl.

"No, she's not," responds a detective. "She is heartbroken... She says you guys were close. And she never expected this."

The girl is taken to juvenile detention where Sgt. Dobyns hopes she gets a wake up call to how unpredictable and dangerous prostituting can be.

"A lot of times these girls don't tell anyone where they are going," says Dobyns.

"We'd rather they meet a cop than a killer."

For the next sting, another detective responds to an ad on an escort website offering a two girl special.

This time the girls are almost an hour late and collect $300 dollars from the undercover officer for a massage.

While officers watch from the other room, the girls dodge the undercover officers advances and tell him they know of a friend that might have sex with him but insist they only give massages.

At one point the officer complains that they didn't even bring lotion. A girl then offers to give him a $50 dollar discount.

When police raid the room, the girls continue to insist that they are only offering escort and massage services and not sex.

"I get like 100 texts a day and maybe one of them is for a massage - we get a lot of complaints," one girl tells Dobyns admitting that most men are expecting sex.

She also tells Dobyns Santa Fe customers seem less prone to violence, but Dobyns disagrees.

"These girls are coming into a dangerous situation, when your online you do not know who is behind that computer screen."