Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Princeton Times

August 29, 2008

Police arrest three on ongoing prostitution stings

PRINCETON — Princeton authorities continued their bid to crack down on Mercer Street prostitution and crimes throughout the city this week.

Det. Sgt. J.W. Howell and Det. T.A. Bailey arrested three more women Monday, charging each with first-offense prostitution in the third undercover sting this month.

Elizabeth Yost, 38; Melinda Mae Pennington, 27; and Latasha Kanode, 18; all of Princeton, were arrested on Mercer Street, Howell said.

The investigation involved a cooperating individual who agreed to be part of the sting. Howell said the women approached the individual, while he and Bailey monitored the conversations via surveillance equipment.

“They offered the prostitution in exchange for money, and at that point, they were arrested,” Howell said.

Prostitution has long plagued Mercer Street businesses, customers and even motorists. Monday’s investigation highlighted its continued presence, as well as authorities’ commitment to stem the situation.

Officers were set up in the area at approximately 5:30 p.m., and within an hour, the three women were in custody.

The stings are part of the Prince-ton Police and Sout-hern Reg-ional Drug and Violent Crime Task Force mission to get drugs and criminal activity off local streets and im-prove sout-hern West Virginia communities.

“It all leads back to drugs,” Bailey said. “That’s why they’re out there. They’re doing it to pay for the drugs they’re addicted to.”

Their trade takes its toll on the area, as it leads to even more drug activity and the crimes connected to addiction. And it often frightens other people away from Princeton’s downtown area and the businesses that make a home there.

“If we can get them off the street, people can feel safe to go shopping and just to be in the area again,” Howell said.

— Contact Tammie Toler at ttoler@ptonline.net.

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