Dozens of people have been caught up in “Operation Fast Track,” a six-month-long Seattle police investigation focused on putting a crimp in the lucrative prostitution market – much of it controlled by street gangs – that’s concentrated in a six-block area, reports the Seattle Times. Known simply as “the track,” the area is a cruising ground for johns on Friday and Saturday nights. It’s also a spot where pimps go to recruit girls and young women who frequent an all-ages dance club and a recently closed nightclub in the neighborhood. Detectives “obtained arrest warrants or have probable cause to arrest 38 people right now, but we’re actually investigating another 70,” Assistant Police Chief Jim Pugel said.
The investigation was launched in December, after police noticed a significant increase in prostitution activities in the area. For the past six months, surveillance teams staked out the area, questioning prostitutes and stopping pimps and johns as they drove off. Two youthful-looking female officers were sent to the track to work as decoys. “Prostitution has been here forever, but it was the intensity of it,” Pugel said. The men looking to buy sex came from all over, he said: “We had people coming up from Oregon, people from British Columbia, and people just passing through.” He added: “Once you start allowing too much activity, and it goes unabated, you get a lot of violence.”