Crime

The undercover sting was over. But the ads offering sex for money kept working, Merced cops say

akuhn@mercedsunstar.com

Merced police arrested three more men on suspicion of soliciting prostitution hours after announcing a sting that nabbed 20 people.

Christian Cortes-Reyes, 22, 43-year-old Jose Dematos and 30-year-old Thai Vang were arrested after responding to the sex ads set up by police.

The Merced Police Department’s DART team announced Monday afternoon the results of an undercover statewide operation called “Reclaim and Rebuild” between Jan. 24 and 26, according to news releases.

DART officers, with the help of undercover operatives in the Merced Gang Violence Suppression Unit, posted and responded to online ads on commercial sex websites, authorities said.

When people responded to the ads at various locations in Merced, officers negotiated sex-for-money schemes and arrested those arriving and seeking to engage in prostitution acts. Eight women and 10 men were arrested for soliciting prostitution, while two men were arrested for pimping and supervision of prostitution. One of those two men also were charged with human trafficking a minor under the age of 18, officers said.

But after Monday’s news release, officers received more online requests from Cortes-Reyes, Dematos and Vang, who wanted to pay for sex, police said.

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