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Prostitution bust at Santa Ana hotel - exclusive

June 18, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
In an Eyewitness News exclusive, we went with police on an undercover operation at a Santa Ana hotel they call a magnet for crime.

It was just after 11 a.m. when a man walked out of room 821 at the California Lodge Suites Hotel, where suspected prostitution was taking place. Santa Ana police detained him for questioning.

"[He] advised us that he was here to visit a brothel. The information that we received from him, our vice unit did an undercover sting program," said Corporal Michael Gonzalez with the Santa Ana Police Department.

Inside the room, police said they found a 25-year-old woman having sex with a 41-year-old man. An older woman and a pregnant woman sat nearby eating lunch. Police arrested the 25-year-old and said she's been arrested four times before for prostitution. The man, now facing solicitation for prostitution, also had an outstanding drug-related arrest warrant.

"This property here has been a problem for quite some time," said Gonzalez.

Police allege trouble with the hotel goes back more than 20 years. In the past year and a half, they said they've had 365 calls for service, ranging from drug problems to domestic violence.

"It's affecting everyone. It doesn't stay just in there," said Santa Ana resident Jose, who only wanted to be identified by his first name.

Jose worries about children's safety with two schools nearby, as well as the low income families who live at the hotel.

"I think our kids are in danger, because not only there's drugs but there's prostitution going on in there," said Jose.

Police say they are working with the city and looking at nuisance abatement as a way to try to deal with the problems at the hotel.

"They attempt to contact the owner and see if the owner will abide by certain rules and if they don't, we can try to fine the owner or do something with the property where he's forced to make changes," said Gonzalez.

It's a move applauded by some who would like to see the hotel shut down and the crime disappear. The hotel management has not returned our calls for a comment.


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