A total of 21 people were arrested as part of a months-long prostitution sting operation that the Santa Maria Police Department touted Monday as the first of many investigative efforts to address the issue.
The prostitution probe began in November, when Santa Maria police investigators, working in conjunction with members of the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office, executed their first operation, in which two undercover female officers posed as street-level prostitutes, according to police Detective Jason Zickuhr.
Ten men were arrested for soliciting the officers’ services that night, Zickuhr said.
Another operation this month led to the arrests of 11 men for solicitation for prostitution, he said.
That operation involved investigators from Santa Maria police and the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control.
Zickuhr said both operations were conducted at various spots along North Broadway, South Broadway and East Main Street.
The exact locations were being withheld in order to preserve them for future use, and the names of those arrested also will not be released, according to police.
In the news release, Zickuhr said community members voicing their concern with an “obvious increase” in street level prostitution during an October town hall meeting prompted the investigation, which would be the first in a series of investigations into the issue.