Richmond FBI nabs three in Chesterfield prostitution sting

Published: Feb. 25, 2015 at 1:46 AM EST|Updated: Mar. 7, 2015 at 1:46 AM EST
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CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - The Richmond area FBI nabbed three suspects in a prostitution sting at a Super 9 hotel off Midlothian Turnpike. Mayra Sanchez, 18, Joseph Williams, 20, and Aaron Allen, 20, are facing a slew of charges, after investigators tracked them down through an internet ad for escorts, on Backpage.com. Detectives say the ad showed a girl who appeared to be underage. FBI agents didn't hesitate to set up a meeting at the Super 8, on the 8,200 block of the Midlothian Turnpike, last Thursday.

Backpage.com has pages of escort ads featuring pictures of young women to entice callers. However, potential "Johns" aren't the only ones calling. The FBI's Richmond area Child Exploitation Task Force partners with local and state police, even Homeland Security investigators, to pinpoint those selling sex, and people willing to pay for it.

"Our agency task force officers are constantly on the internet looking for these advertisements on social media sites like Backpage, Craigslist to identify some of these young ladies," said FBI special agent and supervisor Robert Hilland. "They use pictures of young, attractive females to attract customers or would be customers."

During the bust, detectives discover Sanchez was 18, and not a minor. Sanchez was charged, along with Aaron Allen and Joseph Williams, for promoting prostitution, among other charges.

"Often times these young ladies are not necessarily working by themselves, but other people are working them so-to-speak," continued Hilland.

Hilland says the task force also works to help both minors and adults, find their way out of a dark path.

"We recognize, particularly the young girls, in a lot of ways they have been victims themselves. We try to help them as well."

The Richmond FBI works with a number of local agencies to help minors or adults involved in prostitution pull themselves out of the cycle.

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