New Orleans, LA

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Web stings
License suspension

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.



Key Partners

  • New Orleans Police Department
  • Eden House
  • Behavioral Treatment Providers (Nashville, TN)

Key Sources

State Louisiana
Type City
Population 390845
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