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Operations target prostitution at NM State Fair

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — There’s more to pick up at the State Fair than fried food and funnel cakes.

Prostitution is common during the fair, and Albuquerque police are running “John ops” in response. A John operation is when female officers dress up as prostitutes and aim to gather evidence against men who approach them with the intent of paying for sex, said Officer Tanner Tixier, a police spokesman.

“The officers have to be very careful about how they approach (the Johns) and how the conversations take place to avoid entrapment,” Tixier said. He declined to discuss specifics.

An operation on Saturday night netted nine arrests for solicitation, and police likely will have additional operations before the fair wraps up Sunday, he said.

Tixier said the fair brings to Albuquerque people from out of town, which causes the demand for prostitutes to increase. Tixier said police are seizing the vehicles of men who are arrested under a nuisance vehicle ordinance, as an added deterrent. The vehicles usually are seized for 30 days, and offenders have to pay a fine to get them back.

Tixier said police are going after prostitution because it is often connected to other crimes. In addition to drug offenses, both prostitutes and Johns are likely targets for battery and robberies.

Police are also targeting other crimes that surround the state fair.

Last weekend, police arrested two men who stole a city-owned bait car on the state fairgrounds, Tixier said. Police also said three people were arrested on suspicion of breaking into a vehicle to steal a stereo, and two people were arrested on outstanding felony warrants.

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