by: Graham Johnson Updated:SUQUAMISH, Wash. —
Police arrested nine people in a prostitution sting Wednesday night at Clearwater Casino in Suquamish.
According to court documents, undercover detectives with a human trafficking task force surfed Backpage.com looking for prostitutes who appeared underage.
Detectives set up meetings with the young women in casino hotel rooms.
They arrested eight women, plus a man on drug charges who drove one of them to the hotel.
All the suspected prostitutes turned out to be adults.
"What we don't know is how many of these young women might have started in that profession when they were minors," said Kitsap County Sheriff's Deputy Scott Wilson.
The Suquamish tribe helped police conduct the sting in an area of the hotel away from other guests.
Kitsap County deputies said they chose the hotel as a convenient place to conduct the operation, not because it has a prostitution problem.
This kind of crackdown is new to Kitsap County. Investigators said they'll do something similar again because they're seeing a lot of prostitution, often connected to drug money.
"I don't have figures to tell you how rampant it is but it seems like we're coming across this more frequently than we used to," said Wilson.
Investigators said if they come across underage prostitutes in the future, they'll treat them as human trafficking victims and try to get to the people who forced them into the sex trade.
"It's an abhorrent situation when you have people who are forced into the sex slave work," Wilson said.