16 arrested during Bellevue motel sting targeting prostitution

BELLEVUE, Wash. — Bellevue police detectives said 16 men were arrested for suspicion of patronizing a prostitute during a one-night sting at a motel.

One of the men thought he was meeting a prostitute he had made a date with on an app, according to Bellevue police.

Police said when the 38-year-old got to the motel, he was arrested, and detectives said they learned that in the past, he had talked about wanting to kill a prostitute. Officers then found two guns in the waistband of his pants.

“Prostitution is not a victimless crime. Many sex workers become victims of robbery, assault and rape,” said Bellevue Police Captain Shelby Shearer. “We want to send the clear message to these suspects, don’t engage in prostitution, and certainly don’t do it in Bellevue.”

Investigators said the men arrested in the sting agreed to pay $80 to $280 for sex. Some brought sex toys, alcohol and drugs to their “dates.”

Police said Bellevue’s prosecutor will recommend the men be required to take the 10-week Stopping Sexual Exploitation through Seattle Against Slavery program.

“This program teaches how sexually exploiting women causes them harm and the suspects will learn tools to create healthy relationships in their own lives,” the police department said in its blog.

“Our ongoing investigations show that countless people are being trafficked and commercially sexually exploited in the city of Bellevue. We have identified children, domestic violence victims, foreign nationals, and other highly vulnerable and marginalized people who are being harmed through the illicit sex trade,” Shearer said.

Bellevue police said anyone who is a victim of sex or labor trafficking should email them at ViceHT@bellevuewa.gov or call 911 if currently in danger.