6 men arrested in online prostitution sting

ESCONDIDO, Calif. -- Six men have been arrested following an online prostitution operation conducted by the Escondido Police Department along with the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force and The San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force.

The men were busted Thursday in an online sting. Undercover agents posted ads on several social media sites over a period of a day, selling sex and enticing respondents to meet in person.

Lt. Chris Lick with Escondido police says this is very common.

"When the men responded to the ad and the conversation took place, which lead to a location here in Escondido and they were taken into custody," Lick said.

Five of the men were booked on suspicion of misdemeanor sex solicitation and 39-year-old San Diego resident Yama Rostami was booked on suspicion of attempting to recruit an online decoy to become a prostitute. Pandering, or offering to to be the woman's pimp to get her into the sex trade, is a felony.

According to Lick, the process of pandering can be very deceptive and targets those most vulnerable and at risk.

“They are often enticing them with drugs or money and to form a bond, but an abusive bond, where the girls feel trapped and are forced to have sex with the pimp, creating this relationship that is very difficult to break out of.  The misdemeanor could carry a year in jail, but mostly only a fine.  The felony pandering carries one to three years in jail plus a $10,000 fine."

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