A two-day sting operation aimed at unlicensed escorts and escort agencies in Edmonton has resulted in $134,000 in fines levied against 20 escorts and 15 agencies, police said Thursday.

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Det. Chuck Prince of the Edmonton Police Service vice unit says licences are an important way for the city to keep tabs on the escort industry. ((CBC))

"We set up in a local hotel and we call off craigslist a number of the women who advertise themselves there," said Det. Chuck Prince of the Edmonton Police Service's vice unit.

"We're looking for the women who are unlicensed, and ask them to respond to provide a sexual service for the occupant of the hotel suite."

If the escort wasn't licensed, or if the agency she represents wasn't licensed, fines of $2,500 and more were levied, Prince said.

The goal is not to cut down on prostitution — which is legal so long as it's not arranged in a public place — it's to ensure that those who provide the service are licensed.

That allows police and city officials to conduct criminal background checks and ensure that people with criminal records, especially involving drugs or violence, are not granted a licence, Prince said.

"If we don't take control of this, this could quickly get out of hand and we're going to be in a big problem."

A licence for an escort in Edmonton costs $121. For an escort service, it's about $3,800 a year.