Casper police arrested four women suspected of prostitution and one man suspected of soliciting prostitutes in an undercover operation Thursday evening.
Police arrested Bailey Bruce, of Evansville; Cassandra Combs, of St. Paul, Minnesota; Canisha Martinez, of Casper; and Alexandra Tyler, who was homeless, on suspicion of prostitution. Officers also arrested David Mangus, of Casper, on suspicion of soliciting prostitution.
Undercover police officers contacted the women through online advertisements and the women agreed to perform sex acts in exchange for payment ranging from $150 to $350, according to arrest affidavits. Police arrested the women when they arrived at the location where they previously agreed to meet.
Mangus responded to an online ad posted by officers and agreed to pay an undercover officer posing as a prostitute a quarter-pound cheeseburger and medium fries from McDonald’s for sex, according to an arrest affidavit. Officers arrested Mangus when he arrived at the predetermined location with the bag of food.
“Hookin’ for cheeseburgers isn’t normal,” Detective Dan Dundas said, though sometimes drugs or other valuables can be exchanged.
The sting was part of an annual nationwide effort by law enforcement, called Operation Cross Country, to rescue underage victims of sex trafficking. Last year, 149 underage victims were rescued across the country and more than 150 others were arrested, according to the FBI.
Casper police rescued a 16-year-old girl who had been trafficked to Casper from Colorado in a 2014 sting that was part of the nationwide operation. A federal judge sentenced the girl’s trafficker, Joseph Jovon Dawson, to 10 years in prison for transporting a minor for illegal sexual activity.
The ultimate goal of investigating prostitution in Casper is to find underage victims of sex trafficking, Dundas said.
Many prostitutes and traffickers in the region travel along Interstate 25 and Interstate 80 and advertise through online sites like Backpage.com, Dundas said.