NM: Desert Divas Indictments Handed Down

Tri-State Prostitution Ring Busted In August

POSTED: 11:28 pm MDT September 23, 2008
UPDATED: 5:59 pm MDT September 25, 2008

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Court documents filed Tuesday reveal new details about Desert Divas New Mexico. It was part of an alleged tri-state prostitution ring police busted in August.

Now, three men reportedly connected to the New Mexico operation have been indicted.

Initial arrests happened in August following busts in Albuquerque, but there were also arrests in Phoenix and Philadelphia.

Police said the operation used to have an office in the 1600 block of Central Street. Now the space is empty and a criminal case continues to build.

Indictments were filed Tuesday afternoon accusing an Albuquerque man and two men from Arizona of several crimes including racketeering, money laundering, and promoting prostitution.

Desert Divas of New Mexico was apart of a prostitution ring based out of Arizona, police said.

The people behind the operation were reportedly driving fast cars and living in big houses thanks to high priced hookers that were advertised online.

But it all came to an end in early August. Police swept in, made arrests and shut the business down.

James Bays of Albuquerque, well known radiologist Dr. Ross Levatter, of Arizona, and Scott Eder, also of Arizona, were indicted on a long list of allegations.

“The people that were engaged in the racketeering and the most serious charges have been indicted and we are pursuing charges against them,” District Attorney Kari Brandenburg said. “They are accused of inducing seven college aged girls to become prostitutes.”

So how did these young women end up working for desert divas of New Mexico, well according to law enforcement, it all started for some with ads placed in popular college papers.

“It is just disgusting, and it is terrifying that that was even in our newspaper,” UNM student Shauma Brown said.

“It is kind of, I guess in a way upsetting, it is not the right scene for that,” UNM student Adria Cordova said.

Law enforcement said the ads were in the daily lobo and the alibi — and several college-aged women ended up receiving their first ever criminal offense when police broke up the operation.

The campus connection has UNM students talking.

“I am amazed they could get away with it for as long as they did because apparently they were running for quite awhile,” UNM student Ryan Moore said.

Levatter is listed as organizing Desert Divas of New Mexico on Valentine’s Day 2008. Then the business reportedly ran from March until Aug. when police raids broke up the alleged ring.

Bays’ attorney, Jon Miller said they are examining all of their options and they want to see everything in the indictment before making a comment.

But he said that Bays is confident that justice will prevail.

The two men from Arizona have also been indicted in their home state. Police said more than 100 people, mostly prostitutes, were reportedly involved in the ring.

Link to original on KOAT

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