Tigard police crack down on illegal sex trade

Capt. Robert RogersTigard Police have arrested nine men after a major prostitution sting Thursday afternoon.

The sting — the second in three months for the city — was conducted at an undisclosed hotel in Tigard on Aug. 29.

Like previous stings, officers focused their attention not on prostitutes, but on their customers, said Capt. Robert Rogers.

“Over the past few years, numerous Tigard businesses have contacted police to express their frustration and concerns about suspected prostitution operating out of their businesses,” Rogers said.

Most of those businesses are local hotels, which are used after encounters are pre-arranged online, Rogers said.

The men arrested in the sting include James Allen Bisenius, 62; Armando Delcid, 37; Geordie Lance Duckler, 54; Michael Dennis Frost, 40; Lakshmiraghu Kishore Gandham, 31; Evan Douglas Gonroff, 18; Hector Lopez, 32; Jose Manuel Rivera, 25 and Steven Alan Steinberg, 43.

During the enforcement operation, an undercover female officer posted fake advertisements on websites often frequented for prostitution, and arranged to meet with the men at a local hotel.

Rogers wouldn’t say how many men responded to the ad, but one detective reportedly told Rogers that the city received “a plethora of responses.”

The sting was the second police have conducted in the city this year. In May, police arrested five men in a similar operation, and Rogers said there would likely be more arrests.

“We want to send the message that Tigard is not an easy target to come in and conduct illegal sex activities, either promoting or engagement,” he said.

The men were charged with patronizing a prostitute — a Class A misdemeanor — and lodged in the Washington County Jail.

Rogers said the stings are a change in thinking for the department.

“It’s a shift in the way that crimes are being addressed by law enforcement,” he said. “We are going to where the crimes are at, instead of waiting to see the results of a crime.”

Rogers said it was not enough to arrest prostitutes in the city. It is the customers — known as Johns — who are the real problem.

“That’s where the money is,” Rogers said. “It is important for us to also follow the money. The Johns are the ones bringing the money to the issue.”

The city’s zero-tolerance policy toward prostitution will help prevent more people from getting caught up in the enterprise and spread the word that prostitution is not a victimless crime, he added.

“The numbers are staggering regarding victims compelled into prostitution,” Rogers said. “(Prostitutes are) now more likely to be connected to sexual servitude and human trafficking.

“Every year, scores of prostitutes are murdered, beaten and tortured, both physically and mentally, within the illegal sex trade.”

According to a recent study by Portland State University and U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, 469 children from the Portland area were forced into prostitution over the past four years, some were as young as 8 years old.

Editor's Note: This story did not originally include the names of the nine men arrested in the sting.