Compton, CA

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Web stings
License suspension

Compton, a city of about 97,000 residents, is located in the Los Angeles metro area near Lynwood and Hawthorne, California. Prostitution is a “notorious” local problem, particularly along Long Beach Boulevard, and cases of trafficking minors as young as 12 for sexual exploitation have been investigated and resulted in arrests and rescued children.

Police operations have been conducted in response to a long history of citizen complaints regarding prostitution activity during both day and evening hours on Long Beach Boulevard and surrounding streets in Compton.  Investigators have found that pimps and their “lead prostitutes” have recruited underage girls from Inland Empire schools and taken them to areas in Compton and Lynwood where they were forced to sell sex.  In a 2012 case, a 19-year-old woman is alleged to have lured underage girls at her school to work for her pimp, bringing them into the control of a sex-trafficking ring in the Compton and Lynwood area where they were beaten, raped, locked up and forced into prostitution. In September 2018, a regional task force led by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department rescued a 16-year-old girl from Texas and three adult females were identified as victims of human trafficking and accepted services from the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, and help from the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program.

Among the tactics used to address sex trafficking and the local commercial sex problem are street-level reverse stings.  In a memorandum to the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reported that deputies at its Compton station conducted 12 “john” stings between November 2000 and April 2002. Johns arrested during this period were given “probation sanctions as well as mandatory community service, HIV and in some cases drug education classes.” It is unclear if such sanctions are still in place.

After a 2011 sting operation resulted in the arrest of 27 women engaged in prostitution, the Sheriff’s Department said it would expand operations to include efforts to arrest sex buyers. Compton City Council member Yvonne Arceneaux  expressed approval of apprehending customers, saying: “They create the demand. If you stop them, the prostitutes have no one to sell to.”

A reverse sting occurred in 2012, but no information was provided to indicate whether it was the first reverse sting ever conducted in the city.  The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s Compton Station and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau Vice Unit conducted a “john sting” that yielded 12 suspected sex buyers (along with three suspected females engaged in prostitution and four individuals engaged in pimping/pandering).  The operation used plainclothes female deputies as decoys over a 12-hour period at the Hub Motel located on the 700 block of South Long Beach Boulevard.  The arrestees were either taken to the Century Regional Detention Facility for booking or were released with a citation.

In May 2014, police conducted foot patrols along the streets of Lynwood and to the Compton line as part of the Prostitution and John Abatement Foot Beat launched by the Sheriff’s Department’s Major Crimes Bureau. The Bureau reportedly has conducted operations like this in Compton as well.  Police said the john patrols have been done in Compton, but never before in Lynwood.  The purpose of the May 2014 operation was to reduce or eliminate prostitution along the boulevard between Lynwood and Compton.  Officers from the Century, Compton and East Los Angeles sheriff’s stations along with reserve deputies took part in the program. Personnel from the county Probation and Children and Family Services departments also were part of the task force along with city employees from the business license, parking and code enforcement divisions.  The operation resulted in 20 arrests, including prostitution, drug offenses, and outstanding warrants.  Two 18-year-old males were arrested for the sex trafficking of a juvenile.

In July, 2018 a web-based reverse sting was conducted that resulted in the arrest of 20 men for allegedly soliciting sex acts from undercover Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies.


Key Partners

  • Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
    • LACSD Compton Station Special Assignment Team
  • Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office
  • FBI

Key Sources


State California
Type City
Population 97550
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