By Doug Jastrow

Contra Costa Times

OAKLAND -- Police arrested 19 men during a sting operation Friday in which undercover officers posed as prostitutes, a police captain said.

Officers focused their efforts along International Boulevard east of Lake Merritt and the Fruitvale neighborhood, an area plagued with prostitution for years, Capt. Edward Tracey said.

"Some say prostitution is a victimless crime, but most people who speak like that do not live in these neighborhoods," he said.

The sting, which began Friday afternoon, lasted about eight hours. One person suspected of being a pimp t was arrested along with 18 men accused of soliciting a prostitute for sex, Tracey said.

Residents and city officials held a rally in the area last month to draw attention to the area's prostitution problem.

Tracey said police have fewer resources at their disposal, so future efforts to curb the sex trade need to be more creative. He will speak with city attorneys next week about the possibility of posting on the department's website mug shots of those arrested Friday.