Lafayette, LA

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

Lafayette is a city of approximately 127,000 residents, located an hour west of Baton Rouge, LA. It is the government seat of Lafayette Parish, LA. Prostitution and related activity have been well-documented in the cities and surrounding areas. This activity 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. For example, in February, 2019 the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office arrested seven women and two men during a prostitution and sex trafficking investigation. The arrests resulted from a 17-month investigation involving massage parlors and residences in the City of Lafayette and the Lafayette Parish, which began in response to complaints from residents and business owners. Deputies served warrants at five massage parlors and three residences in a coordinated sting throughout the parish. Detectives seized approximately $50,000 in U.S. currency, believed to be proceeds of the illegal activity, in addition to seizing five vehicles and a substantial amount of jewelry and business goods. In connection to the original raids, officials arrested an aide to Louisiana’s U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins (R) on two pandering charges, three days after the original investigation. He was initially placed on administrative leave, but later resigned from his position as a result of his arrest.

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 in the city and parish. To combat the demand for commercial sex, the Lafayette Police Department has been conducting street-level reverse stings since 1989, some operations resulting in over a dozen arrests. Operations typically employ the use of an undercover female officer as a decoy. Male sex buyers are then apprehended when they attempt to solicit sex. For example, in October of 1991, the LPD conducted a street-level reverse sting in Four Corners, an area of the city known for significant prostitution activity, that resulted in the arrest of 17 male sex buyers. During the investigation officials used audio/visual surveillance to record the arrests. Videos were used to identify male sex buyers and send “Dear John” letters to their residences, warning them of the legal and health risks associated with commercial sex. Once arrested, the men may be subject to SOAP orders (barring them from entering areas of the city known for prostitution) and/or community service. For example, in October, 1991, a second street-level reverse sting was conducted in which arrested sex buyers were barred from returning the area in which they were arrested. Since 1989, police have been known to release the names and identifying information of arrested sex buyers to the media. In addition, police officers have been known to seize the vehicles of arrested sex buyers and publish their names and other identifying information to the media.

In more recent years, officials have also been known to conduct web-based reverse sting operations. During these investigations, undercover officials post decoy ads on websites known for prostitution and communicate with potential sex buyers online, arranging to meet at a predetermined location. Upon their arrival to the predetermined location and agreement to payment, sex buyers are arrested by officers. For example, in late 2011, members of the Lafayette Police Department collaborated with officers from the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Department, Louisiana State Police, and Louisiana’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), targeting individuals attempting to sexually exploit minors online. Although no sex buyers were arrested, police successfully identified twenty online predators. In March, 2014, a web-based reversal led to the arrest of nine men seeking to sexually exploit minors in exchange for money. In 2015, a web-based investigation led by the Lafayette Metro Narcotics Task Force resulted in the arrest of five male sex buyers.

Key Sources

Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

‘Dear John’ Letters, Cameras, SOAP Orders, Neighborhood Action: 

Auto Seizure:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State Louisiana
Type City
Population 126674
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