FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - Police started planning for this day a month ago. All set up in a motel room in Fort Wayne early Thursday morning, detectives were ready. They put up the web post. In less than two hours, their first hit. A man walks into the motel, expecting to pay a woman for sex, but instead, officers will escort him out in handcuffs.
"This is a fight against sex trafficking, to [let the Johns] know there's a risk out there. People get robbed all the time doing these types of things, but the fear of arrest and the fear of being discovered doing these types of things, that's even greater with these types of operations," Capt. Kevin Hunter with the Fort Wayne Police Department, said.
It's called a "John" sting. "John" is a generic term used for the person, usually a man, paying for illegal sex from a prostitute.
Thursday's sting took a lot of planning and involved a lot of moving pieces. The operation was at a motel in town. First, detectives put up a fake ad - that looks real - on a website with a lot of other posts soliciting sex. The pictures on the site are usually very vulgar, but the detective's ad was of the undercover officer in normal clothes in a non-provocative pose. Still, in less than two hours, a man was on his way to meet her and in less than three hours, there had been interactions with four different Johns.
15 Finds Out saw Johnny Ray Crider, 54, walk into the motel, and not long after, he was escorted back out by officers. In handcuffs, he was taken to jail.
There was already a list of Johns interested in coming, and not long after Crider's arrest, Clarence Junior Crawford II, was also brought out of the motel in handcuffs.
"[When the John walks in], there's an undercover detective inside. They may have previously talked about what he wants and what she wants him to pay for it and once we get that confirmation, we'd place him under arrest," Hunter said.
Hunter said, while it seems like a lot to most people, four interactions in just a few hours, in the middle of the day, is actually slow.
"When Backpage was up and running, we had people coming in so fast, we had trouble keeping up with that. Now that we're working other sties, it's down a bit," he said.
By the end of the 7-hour sting, 12 different men talked to or texted the detectives. Only three showed up at the motel. Brian McClintock, 47, was also arrested. All three face a single Patronizing a Prostitute charge, which is a Class A misdemeanor.
"I think it would be helpful to make this a harsher punishment, maybe a Level 6 Felony, with some caveats that they have to go through counseling after being convicted of this charge. Many times people have a sex addiction don't know they have it and they just keep going with that desire," Hunter said.
Ultimately, John stings like Thursday's are aimed at taking down demand. It's basic economics. If you lower demand, then the supply won't need to be there, and police can save more girls from the sex trade.
"[We see Johns] from every walk of life. Rich, poor, young and old, influential people, you name it. We're working on the issue and trying to curb that demand by doing this type of operation," Hunter said.
See the related stories in this post for the 15 Finds Out Hidden Predators investigative series , in which we exposed the problem with sex trafficking in northeast Indiana.