La Mesa, 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

La Mesa is a city of approximately 61,000 residents, located in San Diego County, about nine miles east of Downtown San Diego in Southern California. Prostitution activity has been well-documented within the city and the surrounding areas for decades, and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is sex trafficking.

Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. The La Mesa Police Department began conducting street-level reverse stings in 1994. Operations plant an undercover female officer as a decoy, and arrest the men who solicit her for sex. To discourage sex buyers from reoffending, police routinely release the names and identifying information of arrestees to the news media.

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings:

Identity Disclosure:

  • “Prostitution Is a Problem, But Is Publishing the Photos of Johns News or Punishment?,” San Diego Union-Tribune, August 15 1994.
  • “Get the Picture? La Mesa Plans to Publish Photos of Prostitution Solicitors,” San Diego Union-Tribune, October 27 1994.
  • “Prostitution Arrests Climb Despite La Mesa’s Efforts,” San Diego Union-Tribune, May 10 1995.
  • “Ladies Still Waiting in La Mesa; Despite ‘Johns’ Law, Hookers Are Here and There,” San Diego Union-Tribune, October 29 1995.
  • “Prostitutes’ Photos, Case Details Put Online,” San Diego Union-Tribune, October 30 2007.

Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

  • “Rape-Case Suspect Faces New Charges,” San Diego Union, May 14 1988.
  • “Prostitute Tells of Rape, Robbery,” San Diego Union-Tribune, August 27 2004.
State California
Type City
Population 60720
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