There's a new sheriff in town, and her name is Nury Martinez.
The L.A. city councilwoman this week announced that there's been a huge, nearly yearlong prostitution crackdown in her central and northeast San Fernando Valley district, which includes the sex-worker corridors of Sepulveda and Lankershim boulevards.
The results include 21 arrests for alleged pimping and pandering, four arrests for suspicion of human trafficking and 177 citations for alleged solicitation of sex workers, according to a statement from Martinez's office. Authorities said they also rescued 11 victims, impounded 79 vehicles and issued 2,179 traffic citations as part of the Valley crackdown. One of the victims, found last month, was 14 years old, officials said.
"There has always been a prostitution problem in these areas, ever since I was a little girl," said Martinez, a Valley native. "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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Martinez helped the Los Angeles Police Department launch a human trafficking task force in October. Then, this summer, she secured $1 million in city taxpayer money for the operation, according to her office:
This human trafficking task force has partnered with residents to provide intelligence leading to the arrest and prosecution of johns who buy, and the criminals who sell, women and girls on the streets and online. Often the people behind human trafficking are gang members or other criminals with long criminal records. Other serious crime in these two corridors has decreased since the human trafficking task force began work, and that could be attributed to putting these pimps and traffickers behind bars.
"Over the past year we have seen much success and built better lines of communication with the community," said Lt. Marc Evans, head of 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."