3 Tri-City women arrested in online classified prostitution bust

Mid-Columbia news

http://www.tri-cityherald.com/tch/local/story/9505905p-9416571c.html

Published Saturday, December 8th, 2007PAULA HORTON HERALD STAFF WRITER

Three Tri-City women contacted through their online classified ads went to a Kennewick hotel likely expecting to provide massages and sexual activities for a fee.

What they didn’t expect was their “John” would turn out to be an undercover Kennewick police detective and that they’d be walking into a prostitution bust.

Detectives conducted the prostitution sting Thursday after receiving complaints about the postings in the erotic services section of Craigslist.com, a classified ads website.

Rebecca D. Bunten, 21, and Marion N. Aragon, 29, both of Kennewick, and Gina L. Lund, 32, of Pasco, were arrested after they arrived at the hotel room and detectives negotiated a deal for a sex act, Sgt. Scott Child said. The women were contacted individually and arrived at the hotel separately.

They were arrested on suspicion of prostitution, a misdemeanor, and operating without a business license. Lund and Bunten also face possible charges for possessing drugs, police said.

This is the first sting detectives have conducted from the online postings.

“One of the reasons we look into these allegations is that along with this activity comes … other criminal activities,” Child said.

Drugs, burglary and theft often are associated with prostitution, he said. It’s also risky for the women, who walk into a stranger’s hotel room and don’t know what’s waiting for them.

Several dozen ads offering a variety of erotic services can be found on Craigslist — and that’s just in the section where women are offering services to men.

Detectives scanned the ads and contacted several of the women, but were only able to arrange meetings with three because of time constraints, Detective Rick Runge said.

“The girls think that because they don’t have intercourse it’s not prostitution, but the definition is any sexual contact,” Runge said. “They may not have been having intercourse, but they’re sexually gratifying the customer.”

In one of the women’s ads, she offered a “sensual body rub by a sexy fashion model” for $150 an hour. Her ad said she’d provide a massage while “you drift off and let go of the tensions of the day.”

Another woman posted a provocative photo of herself, along with rates of $170 for 30 minutes and $120 for a 15-minute show.

“One of the three girls insisted she was nothing more than a massage therapist,” Runge said. “We asked where she went to school and she said she didn’t.”

One woman said she made $1,000 in a day, the detective said. She said she got addicted to the money and can’t find a legitimate job that pays that well, he said.

“Our goal is to just stop it. … Like we told them, every time you go to a call, you won’t know if it’s a police officer,” Runge said. “We may just do a reversal and start getting customers.”

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