Officers with the York County Multi-jurisdictional Drug Enforcement Unit rented a Fort Mill hotel room last week, invited women suspected of being prostitutes and arrested them.
Law enforcement officials said there's been an uptick in prostitution in recent months, and a series of stings over the past few weeks have been an effort to combat the trend, according to Lt. B.J. Kennedy, commander of the unit's Fort Mill office. The Fort Mill sting follows a sting operation in Rock Hill the previous week, according to arrest reports.
“We'd been seeing more of it in the Carowinds area,” Kennedy said. “Carowinds being a family park, the sheriff didn't want that kind of thing happening.”
Undercover officers set the trap at the hotel around 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Kennedy said they were led to the suspects through ads posted on Craigslist. He said the prostitutes his unit has been encountering recently have worked out of hotels and motels rather than fixed locations.
Last Thursday, officers arrested Kelly Renea James, 24, of Salisbury; Christy Lane Tipton, 23, also of Salisbury; and Stephen Rodriques, 57, of Sumter, S.C.
All were charged with aiding or abetting to solicit prostitution.
Kennedy said Rodriques and one of the women were setting up “dates” on his laptop in the hotel lobby when they were arrested. The other woman was arrested after she solicited an undercover officer, Kennedy said. Police said the trio was charging $200 an hour for their services.
Officers confiscated a total of $1,589 and a computer from the suspects.
In a bust Oct. 24 at a Rock Hill motel, officers arrested Clarissa Deloris Montgomery, 22, of Rock Hill; Heather Leigh Easterly, 25, of Charlotte; Keasha Shakira Grant, 22, of Charlotte; and Dwayne Quinnon Thompson, 39, of Charlotte.
All were charged with aiding or abetting solicitation of prostitution. Easterly, Grant and Thompson were also charged with possession of marijuana, according to sheriff's office reports.
The stings will continue periodically, Kennedy said.