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Gretna is a city of approximately 17,600 residents, located just across the Mississippi River from New Orleans in Jefferson Parish, LA. Problems with prostitution and sex trafficking have been reported in the area for decades. This activity and its ancillary crimes have resulted in residential complaints to local law enforcement. The local sex trade has involved cases of paid rapes of children and the production of child sexual abuse materials (CSAM, often referred to as “child pornography” in state laws). For example, in 2004, a Gretna man kidnapped, held hostage, and attempted to compel his former girlfriend into prostitution (i.e., sex trafficking). The victim was able to pass a note to a clerk at a convince store in Metairie who then contacted police. According to Gretna police, the offender released the victim two days after abducting her from her mother’s home. In 2013, officers of the Gretna Police Department deployed an undercover male officer to identify and arrest three individuals who had been arranging to meet with male sex buyers in the city and subsequently robbing them.
In March, 2023, two individuals were arrested on charges of trafficking a child for sexual purposes. In June, 2022, Jefferson Parish detectives discovered a 13-year-old girl from a hotel on Terry Parkway in Gretna. The detectives were initially responding to a report about a possible kidnapping, however, it was unknown whether the report was about the victim. Upon opening the door to the motel room, police noticed the smell of marijuana and discovered the victim. Reports indicate that she had been forced to submit to paid sexual abuse on more than 10 “prostitution” dates. The victim told police that a woman introduced her to a man after recruiting her to perform prostitution dates. Days before the arrest, the three traveled to New Orleans, staying in the motel room. No one was allowed to leave the room without the male pimp (sex trafficker). The two females posed for pictures under the instruction of the traffickers, where the images were later posted to a website commonly used for prostitution (and thus constituting CSAM). Police reports say the victim was forced into going on a total of between 10 and 20 “prostitution dates” while the traffickers waited outside the room. Each of those events meet the legal definition of rape (nonconsensual sex), and each “sex buyer” could have been charged with rape of a child. All money made through these arranged child sexual assaults was kept by the male trafficker. Both defendants were held at the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center in Gretna for child sex trafficking charges.
The Gretna Police Department has conducted at least two street-level reverse stings. Both operations were conducted in the 1990s and employed undercover female officers as decoys. For example, in 1994, three undercover Gretna police officers, posing as prostituted women, assisted in the arrests of more than 40 men, mostly on charges of soliciting prostitutes and attempted crimes against nature during four recent sweeps. According to Gretna Deputy Police Chief Arthur Lawson, the undercover work, along the West Bank Expressway, began on Oct. 6th and ended on Oct. 26th. Police, who previously had targeted prostituted women, decided to change their tactics by targeting individuals seeking to purchase prostitution, in effort to reduce the demand for commercial sex in the city. During the operations, undercover officers were wired with audio monitoring devices while other officers videotaped the transactions. The names and other identifying information of arrested sex buyers were included in reports by local media outlets.
Street-Level Reverse Stings:
- “Men Booked on Sex Charges”, New Orleans Times-Picayune, November 2 1994.
- “Gretna Police Sting Nabs 19; Prostitution Clients Targeted”, New Orleans Times-Picayune, May 28 1997.
Sex Buyer Arrests, Identity Disclosure:
- Predator cop found guilty (1994)
- JP deputies fired for dealing with hookers (1997)
- Proposition gets man jailed, again (2000)
Sex Buyer Employment Loss:
Background on Sex Trafficking, Child Sexual Exploitation, Related CSAM in the Area:
- “Teens Booked on Sex Charges”, New Orleans Times-Picayune, September 19 1991.
- “Ex-Boyfriend Holds Woman, Police Say”, Baton Rouge Advocate, August 5 2004.
- “Man Releases Kidnapped Former Girlfriend”, Baton Rouge Advocate, August 6 2004.
- “Gretna Woman Abducted, Held by Former Boyfriend”, Lake Charles American Press, August 5 2004.
- Gretna teen abducted by ex-boyfriend (2004)
- https://www.nola.com/man-accused-of-forcing-woman-into-prostitution-at-gretna-motel-arrested (2016)
- https://www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/Human Trafficking Report 2018.pdf (2018)
- https://www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/docs/2020/Human-Trafficking-Report-2020.pdf (2020)
- https://www.klfy.com/teenage-sex-trafficking-victim-rescued-in-gretna (2021)
- https://www.wjtv.com/teenage-sex-trafficking-victim-rescued-gretna-two-in-custody-child-prostitution/ (2023)
Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- Killer is Booked (1990)
- “JPSO Arrests Man in Rape, Attempted Murder of Marrero Woman”, New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 17 2013.
- “Alleged Prostitute Sets Out to Rob Customer; Customer Turns Out to Be Gretna Cop on Sting”, New Orleans Times-Picayune, July 22 2013.
- “Gretna Police Foil Robbery Plans by Internet Escort and Friends, ‘Customer’ Was an Undercover Cop”, New Orleans Times-Picayune, July 23 2013.
- “In a Jefferson Parish Courtroom, Former Marrero Prostitute Describes Beating and Sexual Assault”, New Orleans Times-Picayune, April 9 2014.
- “Gretna Man Guilty of Rape, Prostitute Was Attacked in 2012”, New Orleans Times-Picayune, April 9 2014.
- “Gretna Man Sentenced to 60 Years for Beating, Raping Prostitute”, New Orleans Times-Picayune, April 17 2014.
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Arrests Continue at Store”, New Orleans Times-Picayune, September 30 1989.
- “Gretna May Ban Hourly-Rate Hotels”, New Orleans Times-Picayune, August 7 1991.
- “Gretna Probing Prostitute-Cop Link”, New Orleans Times-Picayune, July 25 1997.
- “Couple Accused of Running Brothel Out of Gretna Home”, New Orleans Times-Picayune, October 2 2012.
- https://www.gretnapolice.com/pr-may-28-2015-2/ (2015)
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