Baton Rouge, LA
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Baton Rouge is the capital of Louisiana. It is also the state’s second largest city, with a population of nearly 222,000. Prostitution and sex trafficking are well-documented in the city and throughout the region, and generate many other crimes including homicide, robbery, child sexual abuse materials (CSAM), and drug and weapons offenses. For example, a man booked in 2019 on charges tied to prostitution was accused in 2021 of forcing at least two juvenile girls to have sex with strangers at a Baton Rouge hotel. The Louisiana Department of Public Safety said the alleged offender was arrested on human trafficking charges when law enforcement uncovered the sex-trafficking operation after they found two girls, ages 13 and 14, at the a motel on Airline Highway in August, 2021. The teens told investigators that a man had them set up “plays” by phone with other men. Arrest documents noted that “plays” is a commonly used slang term for prostitution. According to the girls, the man old them they had to “earn” the right to stay in his hotel room by having sex with random men. One of the girls told officers “it felt like I was being forced to do it” and “they would dump me out on the streets if I didn’t make money,” according to arrest documents. The 14-year-old girl had recently run away from her foster home with another 15-year-old girl, who was also being “taken to different motels around Baton Rouge.” The man had also been arrested in 2019 on similar charges when he was accused of forcing women into prostitution at another hotel in East Baton Rouge.
Problems associated with prostitution and sex trafficking in the city include the targeted murder of sexually exploited persons. Between 1996 and 2004, at least 11 women exploited in prostitution were found murdered in a tightly confined area surrounding North Street Park in Baton Rouge. More recently, a sexually exploited female was strangled to death with shoelaces; the accused murderer had previously been convicted of killing a woman in another city using similar tactics. Additional problems reported include sex buyers temporarily abandoning young children in order to buy sex. For example, in a December 2013 case, police booked an arrested sex buyer for an additional charge of child desertion for leaving a 1-year-old and 2-year-old alone in a car while meeting with the undercover officer to buy sex in a hotel room. Armed robbery of sex buyers has also been documented in the city. For example, in July, 2022, a 15-year-old boy was hospital after being shot by a 16-year-old girl in a prostitution-related robbery. An investigation by the West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office found that two teenagers were working together to lure and rob a male sex buyer. The 15-year-old boy used the 16-year-old girl as “bait” to get the target to a motel along LA 415 in Baton Rouge by posting an advertisement for prostitution. When the man arrived a struggle broke out, and the girl accidentally shot the boy. Both teenagers were charged with armed robbery. The pair had three weapons with them at the time of the incident. The man who was targeted in the robbery was charged with soliciting prostitution.
After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, there had been a reported spike in human trafficking in the Baton Rouge area. In the months following the hurricane, Baton Rouge Police reported a significant increase in international labor trafficking and adult and child sex trafficking. The city has since been listed among the top ten most highly trafficked U.S. cities by the Department of Justice. In an effort to combat the problem, police and other city officials have been working towards stricter prostitution laws to disrupt and dismantle local trafficking operations, identify and recover victims of trafficking, and deter city residents from engaging in the sale or purchase of commercial sex as a whole.
The combat prostitution, the Baton Rouge Police Department has been conducting reverse sting operations occasionally since 1985. In 2007, officers incorporated the use of web stings as a response to much of the city’s sex trade being taken “inside” and off the streets. A web-based reversal in December 2013, for example, netted nine male sex buyers, all of whose identities were publicized. Since at least 1985, city law enforcement have also reserved the right to seize vehicles used for the purposes of solicitation.
Loss of employment is another consequence of buying sex that has occurred within the city. For example, in February, 2019, an aide to Louisiana Congressman Clay Higgins was arrested and charged with two counts of pandering, according to booking information from the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office. His arrest was related to the arrest of eight others in an investigation of human sex trafficking, pandering and prostitution involving five Lafayette Parish massage parlors. The man was initially placed on administrative leave, pending investigation and adjudication. He eventually resigned from Higgins’ staff after his arrest. The arrested sex buyer was a former St. Martin Parish deputy, and his arrest come three days after the massage parlor arrests, which followed a 17-month investigation launched in response to numerous complaints from business owners and residents.The Congressman he served was a cosponsor of legislation, the Department of Homeland Security Blue Campaign Authorization Act of 2017, designed to help protect victims of human trafficking. One woman picked up in the February 2019 raid said she was the victim of human sex trafficking. One person arrested during the raid was charged with human trafficking.
- Baton Rouge Police Department
- West Baton Rouge Police Department
- Trafficking Hope
Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- “Prostitution Raid Nets 38 Arrests”, Baton Rouge Advocate, January 26 1986.
- “Undercover Police Book 43 in Vice Crackdown”, Baton Rouge Advocate, May 31 1986.
- “Police Net 43 in Prostitution Sweep”, Baton Rouge Advocate, January 29 1988.
- “City Vice Crackdown Leads to 45 Arrests”, Baton Rouge Advocate, July 30 1988.
- “38 Arrested in Area Prostitution Probe”, Baton Rouge Advocate, October 18 1995.
- “10-Day Sting Nets 50 Arrests in Anti-Prostitution Campaign”, Baton Rouge Advocate, September 11 2003.
- 50 People Charged in Prostitution Stings (2003)
- “16 Arrested in BR Prostitution Sting”, ABC/WBRZ-TV 2, December 3 2010.
- “Police Clean Streets of Prostitution”, CBS/WAFB-TV 9, December 29 2010.
- “Police Arrest 16 During Prostitution Sting”, CBS/WAFB-TV 9, March 18 2011.
- “Baton Rouge Prostitution Sting Nets Arrests of 14,” The New Orleans Time, September 23, 2014.
- “Male Booked for Solicitation of Prostitution on Sorority Row,” The Daily Reveille, September 30, 2014.
Web-Based Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- “Baton Rouge Police Arrest 9 Men in Prostitution Sting”, Red Stick Now, December 13 2013.
- “Internet Prostitution Sting Results in 9 Arrests”, CBS/WAFB-TV 9, December 13 2013.
Employment Loss, Identity Disclosure:
Background on Local Sex Trafficking, Prostitution, Related CSAM:
- “Group Claims B.R. Has Human Trafficking Problem”, CBS/WAFB-TV 9, February 5 2010.
- “Victim Speaks Out Against Human Trafficking”, NBC/WVLA-TV 33, January 26 2011.
- “Police Say Missing Teen Was Forced into Prostitution”, CBS/WAFB-TV 9, January 31 2011.
- “Human Trafficking in Baton Rouge”, NBC/WVLA-TV 33, April 26 2012.
- “Zachary Man Arrested for Human Trafficking in Recent Prostitution Sting”, Red Stick Now, September 6 2013.
- “Human Trafficking, Prostitution Happening at Upscale Baton Rouge Hotels”, Bayou Buzz, September 9 2013.
- “3 Juveniles Recovered, 16 Pimps, 76 Prostitutes Arrested in Sex Trafficking Operation”, FOX/WXIX-TV 19, June 24 2014.
- “Arrests Made after Woman Claims She Was Kidnapped and Forced into Prostitution in Baton Rouge,” Baton Rouge Advocate, June 3 2015.
- “Zachary Man who Led Prostitution Ring Sentenced to Nine and a Half Years in Federal Prison,” Baton Rouge Advocate, September 28 2015.
- “Jury Convicts Memphis Man for Sex Trafficking of Minors,” Press Release, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana, February 25 2016.
- https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/crime_police/article (2021)
- https://www.wbrz.com/man-allegedly-forced-underage-girls-into-prostitution-at-baton-rouge-hotel/ (2021)
- https://www.whio.com/operation-boo-dat-rescues-5-missing-girls-nets-30-sex-offender-arrests/ (2022)
- https://www.wafb.com/deputies-bust-massage-parlor-prostitution-ring-baton-rouge/ (2022)
- https://www.wbrz.com/deputies-bust-baton-rouge-prostitution-ring-five-massage-parlors-across-city/ (2022)
- https://1079ishot.com/baton-rouge-massage-parlor-prostitution-bust-interview-video/ (2022)
- https://www.wbrz.com/news/two-men-arrested-in-east-baton-rouge-child-porn-investigation/ (2022)
- https://tdpelmedia.com/leader-of-sex-trafficking-ring-pleads-guilty (2022)
- https://www.klfy.com/louisiana/human-trafficking-in-louisiana-they-are-everywhere/ (2023)
- https://www.wafb.com/arrests-made-during-investigation-prostitution-happening-massage-parlors/ (2023)
- https://www.wbrz.com/criminal-secretly-relaunched-massage-parlor-prostitution-ring-cut-deal-with-prosecutors/ (2023)
- https://www.wbrz.com/news/police-were-investigating-nathan-millard-case-when-man-fled-officers-caused-crash/ (2023)
- “9 Arrests in Prostitution Sting; 1 Leaves Small Children in Car”, FOX/WGMB-TV 44, December 13 2013.
- “Baton Rouge Police Arrest 9 Men in Prostitution Sting”, Red Stick Now, December 13 2013.
Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “Is South Louisiana Becoming Serial Killer Central?”, TruTV, December 12 2006.
- “Prostitute Murder Suspect Served Time for Manslaughter”, ABC/WBRZ-TV 2, October 3 2011.
- “Grand Jury Fails to Indict Man Accused of Murdering Woman,” CBS/WAFB-TV 9, July 17 2015.
- “Baton Rouge Man Convicted in 2011 Strangulation of Woman, Faces Life Sentence,” Baton Rouge Advocate, July 19 2015.
- https://1079ishot.com/teens-attempt-lure-rob-man-baton-rouge-motel/ (2022)
- https://www.wbrz.com/police-investigating-case-when-man-fled-officers-caused-crash/ (2023)
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