Sheriff Arpaio's office touts 111 arrests in vice cases - FOX 35 News Orlando

Sheriff Arpaio's office touts 111 arrests in "Operation Vice Grip"

Posted: Updated: Dec 18, 2013 9:51 PM
Credit: @marcfox10 Credit: @marcfox10
Jerry Marfe Jerry Marfe

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office says it made 111 arrests over the last two weeks in investigations into adult and child prostitution, drug activity and strip clubs.

30 people were arrested for soliciting a minor for prostitution in a sting in which a female officer posed as an underage prostitute and took calls from men willing to pay money for sex.

The agency also made 32 adult prostitution arrests and 21 drug arrests.

A total of 32 pounds of methamphetamine, Arpaio says, was also seized during the two week Operation "Vice Grip," as well as 487 pounds of marijuana, two kilos of cocaine, nearly $35,000 in cash and seven firearms.

18 arrests were made at strip clubs for misdemeanor violations such as not having a permit to operate an adult business.

The agency says the arrests were part of the same operation but declined to reveal how the cases covering such a range of crime were connected.

MCSO says the most notable arrest was a 54-year-old Fairfax High School chemistry teacher, Jerry Marfe, who resigned his teaching position after his arrest.  In a surveillance video, Marfe could be seen meeting the undercover officer posing as a teenage prostitute in a motel room.

Arpaio says the operation began December 2 with the assistance of two Tempe Police female detectives who posed as minors, detectives placed ads for "in calls" and "out calls" on the Back Page web site.  According to MCSO, the ads focused on predatory suspects seeking underage prostitutes.  Arpaio adds they were inundated with calls as soon as they placed an ad offering the services.

The Sheriff's office stated in a news release "Each caller was clearly told by the female detectives posing as prostitutes that they were underage and willing to perform various sexual acts."

"Some of those we arrested were so anxious to engage in sex with a minor that detectives literally witnessed them lining up in the parking lot," Arpaio said.

"These are husbands and fathers," Arpaio says, "many of whom came on their lunch hour, or came in their company vans. One man told the officers he wanted to have sex with two girls and dropped by to do that on his way to his own daughter's 16th birthday party."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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