Lafayette Parish, 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 Parish is a county in Louisiana located an hour west of Baton Rouge. It has a population of roughly 244,000, and its government seat is the city of Lafayette. Prostitution and related activity have been well-documented in the cities and surrounding areas of the parish. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates result 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 sex trafficking. The arrests resulted from a 17-month investigation involving massage parlors and residences in the city of Lafayette and 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.

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 prostitution, the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Lafayette Police Department have been conducting street-level reverse stings since 1989, with some operations resulting in over  a dozen arrests. Operations have typically employed 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 1991, police conducted a street-level reverse sting in an area of the city known for significant prostitution activity, which 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 prostitution. Once arrested, the men could be subjected 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. In addition, since 1989, police have been known to release the names and identifying information of arrested sex buyers 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), to target 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.

Loss of employment is also a consequence of buying sex that has occurred in the parish For example, in 2019 an aide to Louisiana’s U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins (R) was arrested on two pandering charges. The former aide’s arrest was in connection to a 17-month long investigation into local massage parlors suspected of prostitution and sex trafficking activity. The original investigation was launched in response to numerous complaints from business owners and residents, and occurred three days prior to the former aide’s arrest. As a result of the raid, eight individuals were arrested on various prostitution and human trafficking charges. In addition, one sex trafficking victim was successfully identified and rescued. According to a statement from Rep. Higgins’ office, as a result of the former aide’s arrest, he was placed on administrative leave:

“We are shocked and saddened to learn of allegations against [him]. His arrest is deeply troubling. [He] has been placed on administrative leave, pending investigation and adjudication.”

The sex buyer was arrested and held on a bond of $25,000, each charge holding an individual $12,500 bond. He was not held at the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center. In addition, his personal Facebook page was removed. The sex buyer’s identity and image were included in reports from local media outlets.

Key Sources

Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

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

Sex Buyer Fired and/or Resigned Due to Arrest:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State Louisiana
Type County
Population 244205
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