New Orleans is a city of about 400,000 residents in southeastern Louisiana, where the Mississippi River drains into the Gulf of Mexico. Prostitution and sex trafficking have a long history in New Orleans, and the city has a deep history of integration within regional and international prostitution rings and sex trafficking networks. The history of New Orleans area as a nexus for human trafficking includes the now defunct red-light district Storyville, and its long history as an international port city. Currently, law enforcement agencies say activity peaks around major events, such as Mardi Gras, the Super Bowl and major music festivals. Interstate 10 provides a conduit for trafficking networks with connections along the Gulf Coast and into Texas. Sex trafficking investigations have become more complicated in recent decades with websites ads offering sex for sale. Detectives had simply posed as customers and conducted sting operations, but when Craigslist pulled its adult ads in 2010, and authorities shut down Backpage several years later, the market became more decentralized and imbedded in closed networks and social media accounts, so police must now monitor multiple websites and social media to investigate cases.
Prostitution and sex trafficking continue to thrive locally, and present numerous problems, including many documented cases of sex trafficking of both adults and minors. For example, in 2019 Louisiana State Police arrested three alleged sex traffickers after finding a missing juvenile that had been abused and forced into prostitution. Troopers were called to a hotel on Canal Street in New Orleans, and found a 16-year-old missing girl who was listed as a runaway in their computer system. While interviewing the girl authorities discovered she had been beaten, drugged, raped and “pimped out” by several men. After the interview, the Louisiana State Police Bureau of Investigations Special Victims Unit took over the case. The girl was taken to a hospital for a medical evaluation before she was returned to her family. Authorities then arrested two adult males and a 17-year-old girl. The men allegedly drugged the girl and raped her while she was incapacitated, while the 17-year-old girl allegedly attempted to recruit the victim into prostitution. The men were charged with trafficking of a child for sexual purposes, second-degree rape, and felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile. The 17-year-old was booked for trafficking of a child for sexual purposes.
New Orleans is one of the many cities we have encountered in which preschool aged children have been found in vehicles or hotel rooms during prostitution arrests. In one case, a pimp and woman selling sex had a 4-year-old in the room where they had arranged to meet sex buyers during a sting operation. New Orleans has also had multiple serial killers who specifically targeted prostituted women and trafficked girls.
Historically, the vast majority of law enforcement efforts to address the problems in New Orleans have focused on arresting women for selling sex. Very few reverse stings had been conducted in the city prior to around 2013, but that has changed. The New Orleans Police Department conducted at least one reverse sting prior to 2013, in response to complaints from the community. Beginning in the fall of 2013, more frequent reversal stings have been conducted. For example in December 2013, Seventh and Eighth District Police officers and members of the NOPD’s VICE Unit arrested five men in a reverse sting conducted along the Chef Menteur Highway. The operation was launched after police received multiple complaints from residents and business owners who noticed an increase in suspected prostitution all along Chef, from Downman Road to Read Boulevard. Seventh District detectives also said they proceeded with the enforcement effort because they noticed a recent increase in crimes associated with prostitution, such as illegal drug sales, armed robberies and shootings. The identities of the arrestees in the December 2013 reversal were released to the media, the first instance we have found in New Orleans.
A john school has been established in the city. It held its first class in November 2013. Its curriculum was modeled after the Nashville john school. The program was designed by Behavioral Treatment Providers, and begins with the same structure and educational elements as the Nashville John School. It also is similar to Nashville in generating revenue for a survivor treatment program (Eden House in New Orleans, similar to the Thistle Farms program in Nashville). Additional information about the program will be posted when it becomes available.
- New Orleans Police Department
- Eden House
- Behavioral Treatment Providers (Nashville, TN)
- Raids Resulting in John Arrests:
- Reverse Stings and Shaming:
- “21 Booked in N.O. Vice Sting”, New Orleans Times-Picayune, November 23 1990.
- “N.O. Prostitution Sting Results in 80 Arrests”, Baton Rouge Advocate, July 2 1992.
- “N.O. Prostitution Sting Snares 27 Men, Women”, New Orleans Times-Picayune, March 13 1994.
- “71 Booked in 7-Week Sex Sweep”, New Orleans Times-Picayune, February 17 1998.
- “NOPD Arrests 29 Men in Reverse Prostitution Sting”, CBS/WWL-TV 4, June 28 2011.
- “Prostitution Crackdown in New Orleans’ French Quarter”, USA Today, September 9 2011.
- https://www.officer.com/investigations/new-orleans-officer-nabbed-in-prostitution-sting (2011)
- “16 People Arrested in N.O. Prostitution Sting”, FOX/WVUE-TV 8, December 5 2013.
- “NOPD Arrests 16 After Undercover Vice Sting, and Other Crime News”, Baton Rouge Advocate, December 6 2013.
- Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “New Orleans Police Crack Down on Prostitution”, St. Petersburg Times, September 9 1949.
- “2 Teens Beaten, Tortured”, Oxnard Press-Courier, June 27 1984.
- “Group Claims B.R. Has Human Trafficking Problem”, CBS/WAFB-TV 9, February 5 2010.
- “Houstonian to Serve Lengthy Sentence for Sex Trafficking”, ABC/KGO-TV 7, November 12 2010.
- https://archives.fbi.gov/man-convicted-of-sex-trafficking-a-child-into-the-new-orleans-area-faces-life-in-prison (2012)
- “Orlando Man Convicted of Sex Trafficking a Child into the New Orleans Area, Faces Life in Prison”, 7th Space Interactive, September 21 2012.
- “New Orleans Braces for Prostitution, Human Trafficking During Super Bowl”, ABC/KVUE-TV 24, November 17 2012.
- “Woman Accused of Teaching Minor to Be a Bourbon Street Prostitute”, New Orleans Times-Picayune, December 19 2012.
- “Efforts to Stop Sex Trafficking Continue Despite Lack of Statistics”, Baton Rouge Advocate, January 7 2013.
- “Sex Trafficking Arrests Made”, Baton Rouge Advocate, February 3 2013.
- “Online Ad Leads Detectives to Mini Prostitution Ring Involving Three Teens”, CBS/WWL-TV 4, March 28 2013.
- “NOPD Officers Seize Guns, Drugs After Prostitution Arrest”, New Orleans Times-Picayune, April 18 2013.
- “Accused Pimp and Prostitute Charged with Trafficking 16-Year-Old Girl for Sex”, Bayou Buzz, December 13 2013.
- “2 Men Arrested for Child Sex Trafficking”, Shreveport Times, January 24 2014.
- “3 Juveniles Recovered, 16 Pimps, 76 Prostitutes Arrested in Sex Trafficking Operation”, FOX/WXIX-TV 19, June 24 2014.
- “Man Pleads Guilty to Trafficking Teenage Girls; Teens from Texas Forced into Prostitution,” New Orleans Advocate, May 22 2015.
- “Man Forced Teens to Work for Him as Prostitutes, Indictment Says,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, July 10 2015.
- “Mississippi Men Charged with Rape, Human Trafficking in Jefferson Parish,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, July 17 2015.
- “Dallas Pimp Gets 22 Years in Prison for Trafficking Mesquite Teen,” Dallas Morning News, July 20 2015.
- “Accused Memphis Pimp Sentenced to 100 Years in Prison as Career Criminal,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, September 9 2015.
- “Jury Convicts Memphis Man for Sex Trafficking of Minors,” Press Release, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana, February 25 2016.
- https://www.wbrz.com/news/three-arrested-after-juvenile-drugged-forced-into-prostitution/ (2019)
- https://www.nola.com/news/crime_police/article_5bc38198-cbcb-53e6-8cb2-56727f00d0ce.html (2019)
- https://www.wwltv.com/crime/new-orleans-man-accused-of-drugged-sex-robbery-scheme-in-several-states (2020)
- https://www.justice.gov/usao-edla/pr/new-orleans-man-charged-12-count-indictment-sex-trafficking-fraud-and-stealing (2020)
- Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “New Orleans Judge Netted in Police Raid”, New London Day, December 16 1959.
- “New Orleans Police Fight Prostitution”, Miami Herald, February 2 1983.
- https://repository.uchastings.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2902&context=hastings_law_journal (2987)
- https://www.wlox.com/story/728946/prostitution-ring-busted-in-new-orleans-biloxi-other-major-cities/ (2002)
- “New Orleans Cracks Down on Post-Katrina Prostitution in French Quarter, FOX News, October 25 2006.
- “Sex Crimes in New Orleans, Separate and Unequal”, Huffington Post, May 6 2011.
- https://neworleanshistorical.org/items/show/827 (2012)
- https://www.hrw.org/report/2013/12/11/harms-way/state-response-sex-workers-drug-users-and-hiv-new-orleans (2013)
- “Carrying a Condom in New Orleans Could Get You Arrested for Prostitution”, Queerty, January 3 2014.
- “4 More Bourbon Street Clubs Busted in ‘Operation Trick or Treat,'” New Orleans Times-Picayune, November 5 2015.
- https://wgno.com/news-with-a-twist/one-time-in-new-orleans-prostitution-was-legal/ (2018)
- https://www.wdsu.com/article/wdsu-investigates-police-are-gradually-changing-tactics-against-sex-trafficking (2019)
- https://www.nola.com/news/crime_police/article_83a12e13-512c-5df4-95d4-5389224f2450.html (2019)
- https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/world-war-ii-prostitution-new-orleans (2020)
- https://library.municode.com/la/new_orleans/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=PTIICO_CH54CRCO_ARTVOFAFMO (2021)
- https://www.kalb.com/2021/05/04/louisiana-lawmaker-scraps-bill-to-decriminalize-prostitution/ (2021)
- Child Endangerment:
- “Woman Booked with Prostitution in CBD Had 4-Year-Old Son with Her”, New Orleans Times-Picayune, January 15 2013.
- “Police: Boy Found at Prostitution Site”, Baton Rouge Advocate, January 21 2013.
- Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “Metairie Slay Suspect Linked to Fourth Attack”, New Orleans Times-Picayune, April 12 1990.
- “Indictment: Man Killed Prostitute”, New Orleans Times-Picayune, April 13 1990.
- “Suspect May Be Tied to Other Murders”, Baton Rouge Advocate, April 13 1990.
- “Jury to Be Selected in Prostitute Murder Trial”, New Orleans Times-Picayune, September 23 1992.
- “Metairie Man Is Guilty of Murder; Strangulation Killed Prostitute”, New Orleans Times-Picayune, September 26 1992.
- “Police Officer Is a Suspect in New Orleans Killing Spree”, Philadelphia Inquirer, September 5 1995.
- “New Orleans Officer Suspected in Murders”, Lawrence Journal-World, September 8 1995.
- “Ohio Arrestee Is Subject of New Orleans Inquiry”, Toledo Blade, January 17 1998.
- “Serial Killer or Taxi-Driving Loser?”, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, December 7 1998.
- “Victim Apparently Dismembered Before Dumped, Police Say”, New Orleans Times-Picayune, March 10 2002.
- “Central City Man Pleads Not Guilty to Fatal Stabbing of Woman Found in Trash Can,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 2 2015.