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SeaTac sex sting unmasks rest-area dangers, trucker says

Sitting in the cab of his truck Thursday Morgan Dean cast a wary eye at the parking lot of the SeaTac rest area following a WSP sex sting.

Sitting in the cab of his truck Thursday Morgan Dean cast a wary eye at the parking lot.

For the past 10 years, he’s driven across the country as a trucker and Dean said he has seen plenty of shady things at rest stops. The Nevada man said he refuses to stop at them after dark.

“I don’t go to rest stops because they’re normally too dangerous,” Dean said.

But on Thursday the State Patrol said they’re putting a hefty focus on rest stops across the state. They staged an undercover sting at the SeaTac rest area, just south of Wild Waves, Tuesday in search of sex workers.

Lt. James Mjor said officers arrested nine women on allegation of prostitution-related crimes. The women solicited sex to troopers working undercover. But unlike in other sex stings, these women these women won’t go to jail, Mjor said.M

“The positive of this is we got nine women off the streets. We were able to provide them some resources,” Mjor said.

State Patrol Lt. Gabe Olson said he's seen an increase in reports of crime at the South King County rest area. He said troopers, as well as Federal Way police, will continue monitoring the parking lot and restrooms for crime.

“Sometimes 10 p.m., it’s loaded with cars and people and not all of them are here to take a break,” Olson said.

Mjor said “Operation Human Freight” is the third rest-stop sex sting the State Patrol has conducted in Washington this year. He said the goal is to arrest pimps and help teenagers who are working as prostitutes.

The women they encountered Tuesday are between the ages of 20 and 30.

“Unlike the other three operations we didn’t get any pimps, but we got some angles and some leads we’re going to follow up on,” Mjor said.

The women arrested and released this week were offered backpacks full of food, water and blankets. They were also connected with advocates who can help them.

“To date, two days later, a couple of them have called back and are hoping to get out of it,” he said.

Dean said prostitution is rampant at rest areas and truck stops across the nation. He is part of Truckers Against Trafficking, a national organization to help sex workers.

“It’s extremely sad. Really horrible,” Dean said. “We, probably, as truck drivers probably see it more than anybody.”

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