TULARE COUNTY – More than a dozen people were arrested on charges related to prostitution after officers in Tulare County conducted an internet-based sting operation Saturday.
On June 12, members of the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement Team and the Visalia Police Department worked together to run an operation designed to catch suspects soliciting prostitution as well as suspects purchasing sexual favors.
The investigators reviewed online ads for erotic services and contacted the suspects, according to the Tulare sheriff’s department. The investigators advised the suspect that he or she was interested in a “date” and specified a pre-designated location where they could meet.
Investigators also went undercover by creating online advertisements soliciting sexual favors and invited interested parties to meet them at a specific location. Once the elements of the crime were met, the suspects were taken into custody.
“We made the arrests once the money had exchanged hands,” said sheriff’s Sgt. Chris Douglass.
Investigators arrested 13 suspects during the one-night sting on June 12. Suspects arrested on charges of soliciting or the solicitation of prostitution were: Nicole Dowling, 23, of Porterville; Amber Robinson, 26, of Tulare; Catherine Diaz, 26, of Tulare; Toni Sams, 20, of Fresno; Ashley Stay, 26, of Clovis; Ismael Ramirez, 25, of Fresno; Brian Ridenour, 38, of Visalia; William V. Charles, 39, of Tulare; Raj Rakkar, 39, of Fresno; Jason Ferris, 34, of Tulare; Dale Garrison, 59, of Kingsburg; and Mark Cardwell, 41, of Porterville.
The females were booked at the Bob Wiley Detention Facility in Visalia, and the males were booked at Tulare County Main Jail.
Douglass said that investigators try to do these types of details a few times per year. The SAFE Team is funded by a state grant from the California Emergency Management Agency and is an affiliate of the Fresno ICAC Task Force.