VICE squad responds to criticism over prostitution stings

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  Some WTVM viewers have written comments on the heels of the most recent prostitution sting at a Columbus hotel.

The comments are scathing:

"Dear Columbus Police Department: Have you caught any murderers or rapists lately?.. Maybe you should quit surfing the web for hookers and do some real police work..."

"Who cares? You are not going to stop it. Let's concentrate on the bigger crimes. If these guys want to put themselves in harm's way, so be it."

Over the past several months, members of the Columbus Police Department's VICE squad have busted several women they say are using the online classifieds website Craigslist to advertise sex for money.

"Everyone is entitled to an opinion. We do cover all aspects of law enforcement in Columbus, Georgia. I have a unit that's assigned to cover VICE. That includes gambling, prostitution and clubs. We feel that that's an important thing in this city," said Captain Gil Slouchick who heads up the Special Operations Unit, more commonly known as VICE.

On Tuesday, undercover officers busted 27-year-old Candita Ortiz at the Days Inn on Macon Road after finding her number online. They say she agreed to have sex for $200.

In court Wednesday, Ortiz pled not guilty. She said she never agreed to have sex but police say she did make the deal with them.

In another bust at the same hotel back in February, police say a 15-year-old runaway girl was being sold into prostitution, allegedly working with three Atlanta women.

"The problem is, many people call it a victimless crime but it's not. With prostitution, there's usually drugs present. There's violence and in a lot of cases robbery takes place. It's something that must be stopped. It leads to other crimes and we don't need that in our city," said Ed Hostilo, a local hotel security consultant who handles security at the Days Inn.

"We had an individual in Columbus that went to the hotel with a prostitute and was robbed. Several days later, she and her accomplices were arrested in Mississippi. They'd been doing this all over the United States. We're going to stop it. It's against the law. It's flat against the law in the state of Georgia and as long as it's against the law, we're going to enforce it," Captain Slouchick added.

A judge issued a $500 bond on Ortiz's prostitution and solicitation of sodomy charges.

Her case has been bound over to State Court.

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