A 15-year-old girl who traded sexual favors for cab rides to meet johns.
Two other teen girls, recruited after a rap concert and advertised on Craigslist.
These are some of the teenage prostitutes Eugene police detectives have found, but officers say there are many more out there.
“I bet if we had 20 cops working on it full time, we could probably wipe it out,” said Sgt. Kevin McCormick.
Instead, there are no detectives devoted full-time to investigating prostitution. Rather, detectives are also investigating drug dealers and other crimes.
So detectives do their best to find teenage prostitutes, sifting through websites like Craigslist and talking to people on the street.
Once a tip comes it, it can take time to find the victims.
Eugene-Springfield residents Stanley Mack Spriggs, Jr., Sharlise Michelle Duckworth and Hollie Robin Spriggs were indicted on federal charges of Conspiracy to Commit Sex Trafficking of Minors and Sex Trafficking of Minors in late 2009.
Officers received a tip about their alleged sex trafficking ring in 2008. Det. Newell said they found the first victim in 2008. They found the second in 2009.
“That’s one little group we’ve got. I think there’s more,” said Sgt. McCormick.
In the case of the 15-year-old girl trading sex acts for cab rides, detectives found her after her mother spotted an advertisement for her daughter online.
“Mom calls in to complain, or say she’s concerned about her daughter. She’s 14 and I think people are getting her in prostitution,” said Sgt. McCormick.
Det. Newell said he attempted to set up several undercover meetings with the girl before they were able to find her. She was with a 42-year-old john.
Pimps, like the suspects, recruit teens in the downtown mall area, offering money, clothes, drugs and–for homeless teens–a place to stay.
“I use the term recruit because they essentially go down there and make this lifestyle of prostitution seem glamorous to the girls, almost,” said Det. Newell.
He added, “It’s really disheartening to sit and listen to some of the stories these little girls have gone through.”
“Tthey see it as an easy way to make money for the material items they can go out and buy,” said Sgt. McCormick.
While it’s difficult to see, it’s motivation for detectives.
“It’s hit or miss for us,” said Det. Newell. “We go out and investigate as many of the ads as we can, try to meet and come across as many of the girls working as prostitutes as we can.”