Lafayette Parish is located an hour west of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It has a population of roughly 240,000, and its government seat is the city of Lafayette. Prostitution activity have been well-documented in the cities and surrounding areas of the parish. 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 in connection to prostitution and human trafficking. The arrests resulted from a 17-month investigation involving parlors and residences in Lafayette city and 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, and seized five vehicles and a substantial amount of jewelry and business goods.
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. To combat the demand for commercial sex, the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Lafayette Police Department has conducted several street-level reverse stings beginning in 1989, and more recently, web-based operations. Operations typically employ the use of an undercover female officer as a decoy. Johns are then apprehended when they attempt to solicit 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. To discourage johns from reoffending, police may also release arrestees’ names and identifying information to the media.
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) to target persons using the internet to prey on minors for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Although no sex buyers were arrested, police report that they successfully identified twenty online predators. In September 2013, a reverse sting resulted in the arrest of 16 men. In March 2014, a web-based reversal led to nine arrests of men seeking to buy sex from a minor.
Reverse Stings, Shaming, and Other Tactics:
- “Seventeen Nabbed in Prostitution Sting”, Baton Rouge Advocate, October 1 1991.
- “Nine Arrested in Hooker Sting”, Baton Rouge Advocate, October 5 1991.
- “Ten Arrested for Solicitation in Lafayette Sting Operation”, Baton Rouge Advocate, October 23 1991.
- “Police Cite Lafayette Board Member”, Baton Rouge Advocate, June 7 1994.
- “Lafayette Prostitution Sweep Nabs 27 Suspects”, Baton Rouge Advocate, August 30 1994.
- “SGA President at USL Arrested in Solicitation”, Baton Rouge Advocate, February 24 1995.
- “ACTION Unit Nabs 20 on Prostitution Counts”, Baton Rouge Advocate, September 19 1995.
- “Lafayette Police Arrest 19 on Prostitution Charges”, Lafayette Daily Advertiser, May 19 2003.
- “Prostitution Sting”, CBS/KLFY-TV 10, May 22 2009.
- “19 Men Busted in Lafayette Prostitution Sting”, ABC/KATC-TV 3, December 2 2010.
- “24 Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, Lafayette Daily Advertiser, September 8 2013.
- “24 People Arrested in Prostitution Sting Operation”, ABC/KATC-TV 3, September 8 2013.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets 24”, Lafayette Daily Advertiser, September 9 2013.
- “9 Arrested in Lafayette Prostitution Sting,” Go Erie, March 4, 2014.
- “Lafayette Prostitution Sting Nets Nine,” The Advocate, March 11, 2014.
- “Eight Arrested in Prostitution Sting,” The Advertiser, April 26, 2015.
- “Eight Arrested in Lafayette in Prostitution Sting; Operation Targets ‘upscale escorts and their clients’ who utilize social media,” The Advocate, April 27, 2015.
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “‘She Still Haunts Us’”, Lafayette Daily Advertiser, October 11 2009.
- “One Man Named in Sex Trafficking Case in Lafayette Parish”, ABC/KATC-TV 3, June 25 2013.
- “Lafayette Man Charged with Promoting Prostitution of Teenager”, Lafayette Daily Advertiser, July 17 2013.
- “Lafayette Police Say Runaway Was Being Used for Prostitution”, ABC/KATC-TV 3, July 17 2013.
- “Woman Wanted on Sex Trafficking Count Arrested”, Monroe News-Star, January 28 2014.
Background on Prostitution in the Area: