TAMPA — Police arrested 16 women on prostitution charges during a two-day operation targeting adult entertainment businesses ahead of the Republican National Convention.
Undercover officers visited 14 Tampa strip clubs Thursday and Friday looking for signs of human trafficking, underage activity and prostitution, the assistant police chief, John Newman, said Saturday.
Officers saw no indication of human trafficking or minors, but they did find prostitution.
"This is something we monitor when big events come to the area," Newman said. "We work with the FBI human trafficking task force to look at increased activity on the social networks, and we go by clubs to see if any are involved."
Eight of the clubs were in compliance, Newman said. One arrest was made at both the Pink Pony and Emperors. There were three arrests each at Scarlett's and the Playpen, and four arrests each at the Alibi Lounge and Skin Tampa.
Among those arrested was 61-year-old Leslie Ann Herrin, who listed her occupation as "entertainer" at the Alibi Lounge on N Dale Mabry Highway.
All were charged with offering to commit prostitution, a misdemeanor, and one was charged with marijuana possession.
Despite information indicating that prostitutes may come to the area to work during the convention, Newman said, police have not noticed an influx. Everyone arrested in the operation had local addresses, he said.
Police plan to continue monitoring the clubs throughout the convention.
"We have standards and laws in place," Newman said, "and we hope this deters this type of activity."
The others who were arrested are Tiera Christina Collier, 24; Dana Marie Molina, 31; Dolores Louise Marquetti, 26; Jillian Erin McBreen, 27; Andrea Marie Forstandi, 33; Rachelle Elizabeth Boyne, 22; Dallas M. Boswell, 18; Zuleyka Serrana, 24; Keri Anne Hamilton, 29; Esmerelda Victoria Medina, 19; Melanie Marie Mendez, 28; Essence D. Donaldson, 22; Kimberly R. Lyons, 45; Xiomara Ortiz, 25; and Danita Q. Wilson, 24.
Shelley Rossetter can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 661-2442.