Gretna, LA

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

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.

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings:

Sex Buyer Arrests, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Buyer Employment Loss:

Background on Sex Trafficking, Child Sexual Exploitation, Related CSAM in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Local Ordinances:

State Louisiana
Type City
Population 17590
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