Long Beach, 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

Long Beach is the second largest city in the metro Los Angeles Area, with approximately 460,000 residents, and is located within Los Angeles County, CA. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been chronic and ubiquitous problems in the city for decades, with activities frequently concentrated along the Pacific Coast Highway and other major thoroughfares. Among the more serious issues associated with the commercial sex market in the city is the sex trafficking of adults and minors. For example, an eight-month investigation by local law enforcement in 2014, resulted in the arrest of 91 individuals and the rescue of 22 sex trafficking victims (adults and minors). Of the 91 arrested offenders, eight were charged with pimping, 20 with human trafficking, 24 with assisting a prostitute, and 29 with soliciting prostitution. One of the arrested offenders had arranged to sexually exploit two children under the age of ten in exchange for money. The city has also served as the operating base for at least two serial rapists who specifically targeted prostituted women. Other crimes occurring during local prostitution transactions include kidnapping, drug trafficking, assault, and weapons offenses.

In response, officers from the Long Beach Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office have come up with a comprehensive strategy that aims to curtail the city’s commercial sex sales by addressing the underlying issue of consumer demand, such as routinely conducting street-level reverse sting operations using undercover female officers as decoys, which they have been doing since 1976, if not earlier. Some operations have resulted in the arrest of over 100 sex buyers. For example, in 1992, as a part of the Long Beach Police Department’s “Major John Program,” 40 undercover female vice officers arrested and charged 118 male sex buyers with soliciting prostitution. Police have also reported using cameras as a form of surveillance during these operations. In addition, once apprehended, sex buyers can have their vehicle searched and impounded. For example, in September of 2003, a street-level reverse sting resulted in the arrest of 16 male sex buyers, and 14 vehicles were impounded. According to officials, since the ordinance allowing officials to seize arrested sex buyers’ vehicles in early 2003, from June of 2003 to September of 2003, 126 male sex buyers were arrested and 106 vehicles were impounded. In addition, a spokesperson for the Long Beach city prosecutor’s office reported that,

“First-time offenders typically are fined $300 or required to perform 80 hours of community service. They also are forced to take an HIV test, attend an AIDS awareness class and are placed on a 3-year summary probation.”

Officers have also used web-based reversals to arrest sex buyers attempting to solicit sex online. For example, in 2003, the LBPD, collaborated with an Internet watchdog group, Perverted Justice, and the NBC newsmagazine “Dateline,” to conduct a web-based reverse sting operation targeting individuals seeking to sexually exploit minors in exchange for money. The operation resulted in the arrest of 32 men booked for attempted online solicitation of a minor under the age of 14. Upon arriving at the hotel, offenders were confronted by Dateline’s camera crew and a reporter and then interviewed by police. The episode was set to air later in the year of 2003. The arrested offenders were transported to the Long Beach Jail and held on $100,000 bail. In 2013, 12 male sex buyers were arrested in a web-based sting conducted by the LBPD. Officers posted decoy ads on websites known for prostitution and arranged to meet potential sex buyers. Upon their arrival at the predetermined location, sex buyers were arrested by undercover officers for soliciting prostitution. The names and other identifying information of arrested sex buyers are also frequently publicized in local media outlets. For example, in 1991, Long Beach became the second city in the state of California to pass an ordinance allowing police to release the names of arrested sex buyers to local newspapers.

In addition to demand reduction tactics by local law enforcement, neighborhood action and public education have also been reported within the city. The city’s prosecutor’s office in collaboration with residents initiated a “john’s exposed” website where the identities and images of recently arrested sex buyers are released. This initiative also sought to educate the public about the links between prostitution and sex trafficking. Additionally, in 1994, residents of the city created a neighborhood associated with 205 members, in which residents lobbied for increased patrol in areas known for prostitution, wore buttons and shirts with messages against commercial sex, and were known to protest and confront individuals in the commercial sex trade. They even went as far as to record the license plates and videotape sex buyers within the city. First-time offenders have also been known to participate in a prostitution diversion program (ie. john school) to dismiss their cases or have their records expunged. Offenders are able to participate in the LA John School, sexual compulsiveness anonymous classes, or a Prostitution Diversion Program with the city attorney’s office.

Key Sources

Reverse Stings:

Web-Based Reverse Stings:

Identity Disclosure:

Auto Seizure:

Neighborhood Action:


Public Education:

John School:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution, Related Crimes in the Area:

Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State California
Type City
Population 466742
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