South Gate, 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

South Gate is a city in Los Angeles County, CA located 7 miles southeast of Downtown Los Angeles, and has a population of approximately 91,000 residents. Instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented in the city and surrounding areas. In response to the significant amount of prostitution-related activity occurring at South Gate motels, motel owners collaborated with city administrators to create ways in which the motels could actively aid in reducing prostitution and related activity at their establishments. Nearly all of the city’s motels were represented at the first meeting in 1987, including those where arrests were made during the sting operation earlier that same year. Prostitution activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates continue to result in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. For example, in 2005, two criminal syndicates were suspected of smuggling hundreds of South Korean women into the U.S. to work in brothels in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Raids of these massage parlors, chiropractor’s offices, and apartments in Los Angeles and San Francisco by federal agents and local law enforcement yielded over 150 suspected prostituted people, more than half whom were determined to be victims of sex trafficking. In addition, 45 people were arrested, including the operation’s leaders. According to the affidavit, the suspected brothels were not limited to Los Angeles’s “Koreatown” but were also located in the San Fernando Valley, South Gate, Santa Monica, Redondo Beach, and Anaheim. The Southern California investigation began in 2003 and culminated by 2005, and was led by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigation division, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Vice Squad.

In effort to reduce the demand for commercial sex in the city, the South Gate Police Department has deployed various demand-reduction tactics such as street-level reverse stings and identity disclosure. For example, in 1987, officials conducted a “full-scale sting operation,” at all 32 motels in the city. The investigation was initiated as a result of the significant number of motels permitting prostitution and related activity to occur at their establishments. During the operation, undercover officers requested to rent rooms from the motels, posing as prostituted people and sex buyers. Officials visited each of the motels at least six times, making it clear that they wanted to engage in commercial sex activities at the motels. The undercover officers even found that they qualified for ‘discount rates’ at the motels. Ten people, including one juvenile, were arrested on suspicion of keeping a disorderly house for the purpose of prostitution. Arrest warrants were then issued for two others. Arrested offenders were either managers or clerks at 12 motels. The investigation was conducted over a period of 2 1/2-months. The identities of individuals arrested for prostitution-related charges (except the juvenile) were included in reports from local news sources. The arrested teenage girl was released into her parent’s custody and her case was handled in juvenile court.

State California
Type City
Population 91154
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