A group of traveling prostitutes suspected of settling in Spokane told police they were making good money here because the local competition is so ugly.
One woman is in custody and other arrests are possible as part of an ongoing investigation into a 36-year-old California man who investigators believe has been brokering sex deals while living out of motels in Portland, Seattle and Spokane. Two motel rooms in Spokane were searched this week.
Shaquisha L. Jenkins, 22, was arrested on a misdemeanor prostitution charge Tuesday when the Spokane Regional Gang Task Force searched rooms at the Stratford Suites, 11808 W. Centre Lane in Airway Heights, and the Bel Air Motel, 1303 E. Sprague Ave. in Spokane.
A Spokane police officer contacted Jenkins and an 18-year-old woman on East Sprague Avenue Jan. 31 and was told “that because there is a lack of attractive prostitutes in the area, they are able to make fairly good money,” according to court documents.
Other officers were familiar with Jenkins - one contacted her Jan. 2 as she stood on Sprague - an area notorious for prostitution - with two other women.
An officer said the women told him they were prostitutes from California who traveled to Spokane via Seattle. Then on Jan. 4, another officer responding to a report of possible prostitution near Sprague and Helena contacted one of the same women, who said she lived in Seattle but “was unable to provide a legitimate reason for being in Spokane,” documents say.
The same officer contacted Jenkins on Jan. 16 after observing her in the Sprague Avenue area for several weeks. He said Jenkins said she was working as a prostitute and had been in Spokane for about a month.
The case began to center on the motels when the owner of the Stratford Suites, Jack Grady, told Airway Heights police he suspected a group of long-term guests were involved with criminal activity. A detective searched the registered renter’s phone number on the Internet and discovered it had been used by female escort services in San Diego, Portland and Fresno.
Task force members started watching the Bel Air Motel and observed several incidents of suspected prostitution.
Then Airway Heights police contacted Jenkins, her suspected pimp and the 18-year-old woman while responding to a possible domestic violence call at the Stratford Suites Feb. 7 about 3 a.m. Officers said they found “crib notes for prostitution” that included phone numbers, names and suspected debt lists.
Hours later, a judge granted the task force permission to search the room and the suspects’ room at the Bel Air Motel.
Jenkins, who remained in jail on $500 bond Thursday, was the only suspect arrested; police say more arrests could occur as the investigation continues.
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