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.
- Hawthorne Police Deparment
- Special Operations Bureau
- Patrol Bureau
- Reverse Stings:
- “Police Curb Streetwalkers in Hawthorne”, August 17 1978.
- “Hawthorne Police Prostitution Sting Produces 45 Arrests; Crime: Shopkeeper Complaints About Illicit Activities Along Imperial Highway Near the Airport Prompted the Crackdown”, Los Angeles Times, April 20 1990.
- “Prostitution Enforcement”, Press Release, Hawthorne Police Department, March 7 2011.
- “Prostitution Crackdown in Hawthorne Leads to 25 Arrests”, Los Angeles Times, March 8 2011.
- “11 Men Arrested in Hawthorne Prostitution Sting”, Torrance Daily Breeze, March 20 2013.
- Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Man Who Authorities Believe Was Running Teen Prostitution Ring Arrested After Chase”, Los Angeles Times, September 30 2010.
- “Teenager Abused in Underage Prostitution Ring Found Safe”, Examiner, October 2 2010.
- “LAPD Seeks More Victims in South L.A. Teenage Prostitution Case”, Los Angeles Times, October 4 2010.
- “Ex-Felon Pleads Guilty to Charges of Forcing Girls into Prostitution”, Los Angeles Times, November 8 2010.
- “Trial Opens for Alleged Hawthorne Pimp Charged with Teen Prostitution”, Torrance Daily Breeze, September 5 2011.
- “Two Long Beach Men Arrested for Felony Sex Trafficking”, Torrance Daily Breeze, May 23 2013.
- “2 Long Beach Suspects Accused of Human Trafficking”, ABC/KABC-TV 7, May 24 2013.