Jefferson Parish, Louisiana has population of about 434,000 residents and is included in the Greater New Orleans Metropolitan Statistical Area. The county’s second largest city and government seat is Gretna, with approximately 18,000 residents, located just east of and across the Mississippi River from New Orleans. The parish spans the area from Lake Pontchartrain abutting the city of New Orleans, to Grande Isle on the Gulf, and includes the cities of Gretna, Metairie, and Kenner. Problems with prostitution and sex trafficking have been reported in the area for decades. For example, in 2004, a Gretna man kidnapped, held hostage, and attempted to compel his former girlfriend into prostitution. In 2009, the Louisiana Human Trafficking Task Force made their first human trafficking arrest since its inception in 2006 after the three-member team conducted a two month investigation into a Kenner woman believed to be operating a sex trafficking ring from inside her home. According to the arrest report, when officer’s executed a search warrant at the suspect’s home they found a bedroom with two mattresses on the floor, condoms lying on a dresser, and security bars on the window. The team was comprised of one representative each from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Orleans Criminal Sheriff’s Office, and U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The sex trafficker was arrested on charges of human trafficking and letting a place of prostitution.

Among the more serious issues associated with the Parish’s commercial sex market has been the targeted homicide of prostituted people. For example, in 2011, two women from out of state, both with histories of prostitution solicitation, were found strangled just two weeks apart in Jefferson Parish. The first was in a Metairie hotel, and the second was in Kenner. In addition, a third prostituted woman was identified as a victim but had survived the attack. The suspect fled from police by car, and during the chase pulled the car over and jumped into the Mississippi River. A week later, a security personnel for the Valero Refinery in Norco spotted the body floating in the Mississippi River about 75 yards from shore. The victim’s driver’s licenses and other personal items were found in the suspects vehicle. In addition, officers found evidence of communication between both victims and the suspect. He was the last person both victims had communicated with prior to their death. In response, the Jefferson Parish Council voted to create an operations permit for hotels and motels, which will be able to be revoked or suspended if a business builds a reputation of prostitution problems.

Sex buyers have also be the targets of violent crime.  Among the episodes of prostitution related violence that has occurred locally has been the assault, robbery, and death of sex buyers.

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office has also been known to collaborate with municipal police departments to conduct operations focused on targeting the demand for commercial sex in the county. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office has been conducting street-level reverse stings since at least 1990, if not earlier. Many reversals were conducted in the early to mid-1990s along Airline Highway. For example, in 1990, a petition signed by 150 residents of a subdivision off of Airline Highway in Metairie led the JPSO to initiate a street-level reverse sting, resulting in the arrest of eight male sex buyers. For the operations, female JPSO undercover officers posed as decoys and arrested male sex buyers who attempted to solicit sex acts from undercover officers. It is unclear if such operations are still conducted on a regular basis; if the tactics are still employed, the details of the operations are likely not released to the public. The Gretna Police Department has conducted at least two street-level reverse stings. Both operations were conducted in the late 1990s, and employed undercover female officers as decoys. To our knowledge, the names of the arrested sex buyers during these stings were not released. The Kenner Police Department routinely targets individuals soliciting sex online. In its efforts, the department has conducted several web stings utilizing sites like Craigslist and to post decoy advertisements and arrange meetings with potential sex buyers. For example, one web-based reverse sting operation resulted in the arrest of nine male sex buyers. On occasion, police have also conducted street-level reverse stings, although they report that the majority of the city’s commercial sex transactions now begin online. To discourage sex buyers, the KPD may release the names, photos, and addresses of arrestees.

Sex buyers have also been apprehended through alternative investigations, traffic stops, and as the result of residential reports to local law enforcement. For example, as a result of the 2011 investigation into the murders of the two prostituted women in Jefferson County, a Kenner man was arrested for allegedly posing as a police officer to solicit sex acts and extort money from a prostituted woman in exchange for protecting her from investigations. According to reports, a day after police discovered a second prostituted woman had been murdered, officials received an anonymous tip about possible prostitution activity at a local motel. The caller described seeing a lot of people coming and going from a particular motel room. Upon arriving to the motel room, officers met the victim, a prostituted woman in her early 20s who admitted to using the room to meet with sex buyers, but was engaging in commercial sex and paying a Kenner police officer to protect her from investigations. According to officials from the Kenner Policer Department, the victim revealed to officers that a man identifying himself as a Kenner police officer had initially contacted her on in May, 2011 and the victim agreed to the alleged officer’s proposal out of fear for her safety. The arrangement was limited to commercial sex for several weeks until the suspect altered the deal, additionally demanding money, wherein the victim began paying the offender $50 installments. Kenner Police set up an undercover investigation after the victim came forward. They provided the woman with $50 to give the offender after he contacted her about collecting another payment. Detectives were watching the transaction in which the victim handed the offender the $50 in a vehicle. After she gave the offender the money, officers pulled the offender over and arrested him. The victim did not face any charges.

Loss of employment is also a consequence of buying sex that has occurred in the county. For example, in 2020, a Jefferson Parish middle school teacher was arrested on charges of molestation of a victim under the age of 13, computer-aided solicitation of a minor, oral sexual battery, possession of pornography involving a juvenile, and indecent behavior with a juvenile. The former teacher was initially arrested in 2019 on possession of child pornography charges and was out on bond at the time of the second arrest. The second investigation was initiated after a relative of the male victim found sexually explicit messages between the former teacher and the boy. Jefferson Parish prosecutors revealed that a second victim was identified based on the evidence provided by the text messages. As a result of his arrest, a spokesperson for the Jefferson Parish Public School System said that the offender was placed on unpaid administrative leave and was eventually terminated from his teaching position at Tom Benson Middle School. In addition, a friend of the offender and a former JPSO employee, was also arrested in connection with the case, authorities said. He was booked with failure to report the commission of a felony. In a statement from the JPSO spokesperson Capt. Jason Rivarde, a result of the former JPSO civilian employee’s arrest he was fired from his position. The offender was accused knowing about the alleged crimes but not alerting law enforcement, but was not formally charged in the case.