Hawthorne, CA

Tactics Used

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

Hawthorne is city of about 84,000 residents in southwest Los Angeles County, California.  Prostitution has been a persistent problem in the city dating prior to the 1970s, causing numerous complaints to police from residents and businesses, and cases of local child sex trafficking have been documented.  For example, an accused Hawthorne pimp who called himself “Snipe King” had his street name tattooed across the chest of a teenage runaway he allegedly forced to work for him, a prosecutor said.  The pimp was charged with human trafficking of a minor, soliciting and pandering of a minor, burglary, kidnapping and lewd acts on a child. He is accused of forcing two runaway teenage girls to work for him as prostitutes in streets and motels.  One of the girls, a 14-year-old from Upland, was abducted off the streets of South Los Angeles and taken to the trafficker’s apartment and forced to prostitute.

News reports document a reverse sting in 1978 that resulted in the arrest of 79 johns using female decoys.  In a 1990 reverse sting, 45 men were arrested, ranging in age from 18 to 71, and about half of them live or work in Hawthorne.  About a dozen men listed neighboring companies, such as Hughes, TRW and Northrop as their places of employment, and many were on their lunch breaks when they were arrested.  Only one of the men mentioned safe sex and none had condoms in their possession, and all but two were married.  Upon conviction, first-time arrested sex buyers face a year of probation, a $500 fine and mandatory testing for HIV.  In March 2011, Hawthorne police conducted a five-hour street-level reverse sting resulting in 25 arrests, including 13 sex buyers.  In March 2013, 11 johns were arrested in a five-hour reversal involving three decoys.  The department has stated that it will continue with these investigations and residents should call in with tip to help inform their operations.

Key Partners

State California
Type City
Population 84422
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