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Local News June 25th, 2009
Stephanie Pettey
Joseph Kemper
Ryan Kubista
Jesse Duran

Escondido Police Find Heroin During Search

On Tuesday, June 16, 2009, members of the Escondido Police Department's Special Investigations Unit served a search warrant in the 2200 block of Amber Lane. During the search, detectives located approximately two ounces of black tar heroin, drug paraphernalia, and $880 in cash. Detectives arrested Stephanie Pettey, 22, of Escondido for possession of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance for sale. Also arrested was Joseph Kemper, 26, of Escondido, who had an outstanding arrest warrant.

This was a continuing investigation that started on June 12, 2009, when a patrol officer made a traffic stop in the 500 block of W. El Norte Pkwy. As the stop was being made the driver threw an object out of the driver side window. Officers retrieved the object that turned out to be approximately one ounce of black tar heroin.

That night, officers arrested Ryan Kubista, 22, of Escondido for possession of a controlled substance, and possession of a controlled substance for sale, and transportation of a controlled substance. Officers also arrested Jesse Allen Duran, 25, of Escondido for possession of a controlled substance when he was found to be in possession of approximately three grams of cocaine. All four persons arrested during this investigation were booked into the Vista Detention Facility. The street value of the heroin is valued at approximately $3,600.

North County Hookers Active

In spite of substantial police work throughout North County, prostitutes are still actively marketing their services.

Oceanside, Vista, Escondido, all report ongoing cases of prostitution. A lot of prostitution has gone modern and is now marketed via websites and Craigslist. But Lt. Craig Carter of the Escondido Police Department reports that while a lot of prostitutes may set up dates via Craigslist or other websites, they will work the street between dates.

What is said to be the world’s oldest profession is still operational but has been slowed by some aggressive police work. Last month, Escondido undercover officers arrested 18 individuals, 16 of whom were “johns,” two of which were women arrested for “loitering with the intent to commit prostitution.”

“Generally speaking, (the prostitutes) seem to have a pretty good client base (in Escondido),” Lt. Carter said. “The johns are available.”

Most of street-level prostitution in the city takes place in an area downtown referred to as The Square, bordered by Mission Avenue to the north, Washington Avenue to the south, Quince Street to the west and Broadway to the east.

The average age of prostitutes has gotten lower during the past 10 to 15 years, posing a concern for law enforcement, Carter said.

“They're generally recruited very young,” he said. “We're trying to protect those girls from a life of prostitution, so we're looking at making sure that there's no underage (prostitutes).”

Oceanside police Lt. Joseph Young said officers are finding both female and male-to-female transsexual prostitutes on the street and are seeking customers via Web sites such as MySpace or Craigslist.

“It's a lot more concentrated on the Web sites than it is out on the street corners, like we used to see in the '70s, '80s and midway through the '90s,” Young said. “For enforcement purposes, that presents a challenge for us. . . . It forces us to do a little more planning and strategizing.”

In Vista, the 500 block of South Santa Fe Avenue was a hot spot for prostitution until about 2003, Vista sheriff's Deputy George Crysler said.

“The street-level walkers still exist in North County, just not so much in Vista,” he said. Computerized hookups have “directly moved them off the street.”

San Marcos sheriff's Capt. Don Crist said prostitution is rare in his city. When it does occur, there are often other crimes involved, such as drugs, the trafficking of minors or gang activity, Crist said.

In March, a routine search of sex ads on Craigslist led San Marcos deputies to a Ramada motel on San Marcos Boulevard. There they discovered an 18-year-old woman who had been listed as a runaway juvenile.

A Florida man seen loitering near the motel in a car was arrested and charged with trafficking of a minor. He is believed to have served as the teen's pimp since she was 15, plying her with drugs and making her work the streets of El Cajon.

El Cajon police Lt. Steve Shakowski said many prostitutes and their pimps might work for a while in Escondido before traveling to El Cajon and other cities farther south, then starting the cycle again.

During Escondido's recent enforcement, almost all of the men arrested for soliciting sex were from Escondido and San Marcos. None of the women arrested for alleged prostitution was from North County.

Carter said some women arrested for prostitution in Escondido also appear to be following the circuit.

“If there's a convention in Vegas, we'll find that there's no girls here,” Carter said. “It depends on what's going on around the county and around the western part of the United States.”

Prostitutes can “average between $50 and $100 per 'trick,' depending on what they do,” Carter said.

“I've seen them where they can turn a trick in usually about 15 minutes. . . . If the pimp is lining the girls up with the johns, and if everything's in line, they can make a lot of money. . . . It's all a big business.”

For the past 18 months, Escondido police have posted online the names and photos of men and women arrested on suspicion of prostitution-related crimes – a point of contention for some civil-liberties groups. The Paper regularly publishes the photos and names of the suspects. In fact, “Hooker’s Corner” and “The John List” have become popular features of The Paper. Often, we are asked, “why didn’t you have the Hooker’s Corner in The Paper this week?” The answer is, of course, “the police are doing their job and enforcing the law. The girls went someplace else.”

Though Escondido law enforcement had hoped to see the photos printed in local newspapers as a deterrent, they have appeared only sporadically on the Web sites of San Diego news stations and in The Paper, Carter said.

Carter had hoped the newspapers would publish the pictures so he could judge the effect as a deterrent. “But I'm not getting any of the papers printing pictures,” he said.

Students Quarantined in China are Returning Home

Most of the students and teachers from a private Carlsbad school who had been quarantined in China because of swine flu returned home over this past weekend.

Twenty-nine 9th graders and five teachers landed at Los Angeles International Airport on two separate flights from Shanghai. Theywere then transported to Pacific Ridge School in Carlsbad to meet their loved ones.

Those teens and adults had been quarantined since June 11 in a hotel in the city of Yichang.

Five more students and two teachers remain in China. They are recovering from their illness and will likely return home sometime this week. In addition, one student is staying in China with his family beyond the school's travel itinerary.

In all, 35 students and seven teachers were on a trip to China as part of a global education program at Pacific Ridge, a college prep school in east Carlsbad that opened in 2007.

The travelers arrived in China on June 2 and toured the Forbidden City in Beijing, the Great Wall of China and the city of Xi'an, where they saw the Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses, one of the most significant archeological excavations of the 20th century that dates back to the Qin Dynasty (211-206 B.C.). On June 11, during a Yangzte River cruise, three students and one teacher reported to the ship's doctor that they were feeling ill. The Pacific Ridge group was evaluated further when the ship docked. By June 14, six students and one teacher had tested positive for the swine flu virus – also called H1N1 influenza A – and were hospitalized.

All of the 42 travelers were treated with Tamiflu, an antiviral medication, while in China. Hotel workers brought the students and teachers food from local restaurants, as well as bottled water, chocolates and soft drinks.

Mullady said the Chinese government is expected to pay for all hospital costs and the expense of housing the quarantined students in the hotel in Yichang.

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