A months-long crackdown on human sex trafficking crimes in the San Fernando Valley yielded more than 200 arrests, including that of several pimps and "johns" who solicit sex from prostitutes, a councilwoman announced Monday.
Councilwoman Nury Martinez said the arrests came during a 10-month period in which a task force targeted traffickers and their customers along Sepulveda and Lankershim boulevards.
Twenty-one arrests were for pimping and pandering, and 177 people were arrested for seeking sex from women and girls who were being trafficked. Martinez pushed for the creation of the task force, which was formed last October, and $1 million was recently earmarked for the crackdown effort.
"There has always been a prostitution problem in these areas, ever since I was a little girl," Martinez said. "Working with LAPD, we've been able to redirect our focus on the predators who buy and sell our women and girls, and we're proud to announce hundreds of arrests.''
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Los Angeles Police Department officials who joined Martinez at a news conference said 11 victims were rescued, including a 14-year-old girl, and more than 200 arrests were made, primarily through working with residents to gather intelligence.
"Over the past year, we have seen much success and built better lines of communication with the community,'' said LAPD Lt. Marc Evans, who leads the task force. "We have arrested many pimps and saved multiple victims, some as young as 14 years old. That gives the officers in the unit a sense of accomplishment, renewed focus, and makes all the sacrifice and sleepless nights well worth it.''
LAPD officials also sought the public's help in pointing them to more victims of three alleged pimps and panderers who were arrested, and to track down three other alleged human traffickers whose photos are included in a recently released "wanted'" notice. Anyone with leads was urged to contact the LAPD at 647TIPS@lapd.lacity.org.