Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Gangs and Prostitution

Since 2002, more than 1,000 prostitutes have been arrested in the Figueroa Corridor and prosecuted by City Attorney Delgadillo’s Neighborhood Prosecutors.

Recognizing the “revolving door” of recidivism couldn’t be stopped with mere suppression, the Neighborhood Prosecutors knew that something more needed to be done to stem the tide of prostitution along the Corridor. First, the City Attorney’s Office targeted 20 nuisance properties for narcotics abatement. Because drug activity is directly linked to many prostitution cases, the nuisance abatement actions resulted in the reduction of prostitution-related crimes at these locations by 65%.

Continuing on this success, in May, the Office announced the filing of a groundbreaking lawsuit seeking to prevent five pimps and 36 chronic prostitutes from operating in the Figueroa Corridor. Known as the Pimp and Prostitute injunction, these nuisance abatement actions are used throughout Los Angeles to target specific pimps and prostitutes who have repeatedly returned to neighborhood corners despite law enforcement efforts to stop them.

Pimps who are also gang members use their gang profits to finance other illegal and often violent criminal activities. When involved in prostitution, they are also more violent toward the prostitutes they control.

They are more likely to punch, to assault or to kidnap these women and they impose arbitrary rules on the prostitutes in order to maintain dominance. Some even go so far as to brand the women with pieces of searing hot metal.

This Office’s work with LAPD on the Figueroa Corridor injunction has led other Neighborhood Prosecutor’s around the City to investigate the connection between gangs and prostitution.

In August, LAPD officers observed three women exit a vehicle driven by a male and attack a woman and her child. When law enforcement officers arrived on the scene, the victim advised the officers that the male in the vehicle was a pimp and that she had previously refused to work as a prostitute for him.

In retaliation, he had the three women assist him in attacking the woman and her child. In fact, the three women kicked the child of the victim hard enough to knock the child to the ground.

During the attack, the women referenced the Rolling 40’s, a notorious criminal street gang featured in the LAPD’s 2007 list of the top ten most dangerous gangs in the City. The reference by these women to the gang during the attack was an indication of gang membership.

The City Attorney’s Gangs Division determined that all defendants, including the male driver, were Rolling 40’s gang members and that the male had previously been served with a Rolling 40’s gang injunction.

Because the male defendant had been discretely directing activities behind the scenes with both his pimping operation and gang activities, he had, to date, no significant record other than being a known pimp.

Despite a witness who gave a statement to the police on the scene later refusing to appear in court, the gang prosecutor proceeded with the case – which ultimately resulted in both the male and the female attackers pleading to several different counts, including Child Endangerment, Pimping, Assault with a Deadly Weapon, and violation of a gang injunction.