Washington State Patrol, in partnership with the Federal Way Police Department, arrested nine people during an undercover prostitution operation at the Federal Way rest area along northbound Interstate 5 near South 369th Street.
During the one-day operation, which officials have dubbed “Operation Human Freight” – undercover detectives rescued people caught up in human trafficking and prostitution on Sept. 18, according to a WSP press release. The stop is known as the SeaTac Rest Area, just south of Wild Waves Theme & Water Park.
“The Washington State Patrol and many stakeholders recognize the crime issues that exist at the Federal Way rest area and are working tirelessly to discourage the criminal behavior,” said WSP District 2 commander Ron Mead, in a press release. “This was one example of a collaborative approach to policing and the mutual sharing of assets and ideas to make an impact on our communities.”
During the evening of Sept. 18, detectives set up at the Federal Way rest area — a high-traffic area officials targeted due to the number of complaints about criminal activity at the location, and safety concerns raised by people who visit the rest area.
Officers searched for both suspects promoting prostitution and victims of human trafficking. Within four hours, officers located nine women offering sex to undercover detectives, according to WSP. They were arrested and brought to a local police station where they met with an advocate who emphasized their safety and their well-being.
The goal of the operation was to rescue young girls caught up in the cycle of prostitution and human trafficking. Advocates from the FBI were on-scene to provide food, water, services and contact information for all victims. Other non-government organizations provided the WSP with backpacks containing blankets, food, water and resources information.
Detectives will continue their investigations into these crimes, which could result in additional arrests and criminal charges.
“We will continue our efforts in deterring the criminal behavior too frequently seen at the rest area so those using it for its intended purpose feel safe and secure,” Mead said.
The operation was the third of its kind this year in the state. It involved a joint effort between several agencies, including the Federal Way Police Department, FBI and the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
This operation was made possible because of WSP’s partnership with Truckers Against Trafficking (T.A.T.) and Trailer Services of Aberdeen.