Los Angeles County District Attorney Seal. Courtesy Los Angeles County District Attorney.
Los Angeles County District Attorney Seal. Courtesy Los Angeles County District Attorney.

District Attorney Jackie Lacey said Tuesday that her office has launched an effort to try to put an end to commercial sex trafficking, calling it the fastest-growing trend among criminal street gangs in Los Angeles County.

“Today, we shine a light on sex trafficking and pledge to stamp out these criminal enterprises,” the county’s top prosecutor told reporters.

She warned that gang members’ “days of making money off of the sexual exploitation of runaways and homeless youth are numbered” and pledged that her office will “protect the vulnerable young people” targeted by commercial sex trafficking operations.

Lacey said gang members are luring victims as young as 12 years old into prostitution.

“The reason is simple. Gangs view prostitution as a low-risk, high- profit enterprise. Selling a girl several times a day is more lucrative than selling drugs or guns. We are working to change that,” the district attorney said.

Lacey said there have been more charges, more convictions and lengthier sentences for pimps since the office’s Human Trafficking Unit was established last July.

The number of human trafficking charges filed against pimps increased from 28 in 2013 to 75 last year, and those convicted included a trio of human traffickers who called themselves the “Compton Division” and ran a multimillion-dollar prostitution ring in which girls as young as 12 and 13 were branded with tattoos, Lacey said.

The final defendant in that case, Robert Jerome Walker, 32, is facing nearly 43 years to life in state prison, with sentencing scheduled Thursday at the Long Beach courthouse.

City News Service

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