Hawthorne, CA

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

Hawthorne is city of about 86,000 residents in southwest Los Angeles County, CA. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been persistent problems in the city since before the early 1970s, resulting in numerous complaints to police from residents and businesses. Among the more serious issues associated with the commercial sex market in the city is child sex trafficking. For example, in 2010, a Hawthorne man was accused of allegedly sex trafficking two teenage girls either on the streets or at local motels. According to reports, the sex trafficker also branded the girls by tattooing his street name, “Snipe King,” across the girls’ chests.  The offender was charged with multiple felony offenses including human trafficking involving a minor, soliciting for a minor prostitute under 16, pandering by procuring a minor under 16, and first-degree burglary. The offender was arrested and book at Men’s Central Jail in lieu of a $1.3M bail. In 2013, the Hawthorn Police Department contacted the Long Beach Police Department after two women reportedly escaped two traffickers from Long Beach. The male sex traffickers were arrested on nine felony counts including human trafficking, pimping, pandering, mayhem, kidnapping, amongst additional counts relating to sexually based offenses. The offenders were arrested during a traffic stop the day after one of the victims reported the incident to Hawthorne officials, who subsequently informed the Long Beach PD. The investigation into the two sex traffickers led officers to a motel in Inglewood, where officers were able to rescue a 16-year-old girl who was also being sex trafficked by the two men. The identities and photos of the sex traffickers were released by police to local media outlets.

The Hawthorne Police Department has been conducting reverse stings since 1978, if not earlier, in which undercover female officers pose as prostituted women in areas known for prostitution activity. The first known reverse sting in 1978, resulted in the arrest of over 75 male sex buyers. In addition, police reportedly towed the vehicles of arrested sex buyers. According to reports, most of the arrested sex buyers were released from jail on a $1,000 bail. In a 1990 reverse sting, 45 male sex buyers were arrested, ranging in age from 18 to 71. According to reports, officers also used surveillance cameras hidden inside an undercover patrol van to record the operation. Approximately half of the arrested offenders either lived or worked in the city of Hawthorne and about a dozen male sex buyers listed neighboring companies, such as Hughes, TRW and Northrop as their places of employment. 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 of 2011, Hawthorne police conducted a five-hour street-level reverse sting resulting in 25 arrests, including 13 sex buyers. In March of 2013, 11 sex buyers were arrested in a five-hour reversal involving three decoy officers. The department has stated that it would continue with these investigations and residents should call in with tips to help inform their operations. In both the 2011 and 2013 operations, SOAP (Stay Out of Areas of Prostitution) Orders were implemented, prohibiting the arrested offenders from returning to areas in which they were arrested from or additional areas known for prostitution activity.

Key Sources

Reverse Stings:

Auto Seizure:

SOAP Orders:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

State California
Type City
Population 86091
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