Emboldened by new California laws that make it nearly impossible for cops to bust prostitutes, sex workers in Los Angeles’ red light district stalk for business wearing no more than thongs, G-strings and high heels in broad daylight.
A 40-block area of Figueroa Boulevard in South LA sees hundreds of prostitutes, some barely out of their teens, plying their trade since Gov. Gavin Newsom passed the controversial Safer Streets for All Act, which decriminalized loitering with the intent to work as a prostitute in January.
“Before, this type of activity only happened at night where most citizens wouldn’t see it, but now it’s 24/7,” one source told The Post.
“Now you can drive by at 2 p.m. and see it. Families drive by and see 10 girls on the corner, condoms on the ground.
“You go by the alleys and you see a guy in the middle of the alley and a woman performing [fellatio]. And a mom and her kids have to pass by that. It’s ridiculous, all in the open broad daylight. God only knows the impact it has on those kids who have to see this.”
Los Angeles Police Department sources who work the area told The Post that prostitutes will perform sex acts for as little as $40 and many are selling their bodies for $160 or less at a time.
However, some sex workers who trawl Figueroa have claimed they make up to $1,000 a night and have regular clients who fly them away to exotic locations.
As part of the loitering rules, officers are no longer allowed to stop the women to offer them help, unless they look underage.
In those circumstances, they will take the women to the station and refer them to the Department of Children and Family Services.
Although the girls get sent to a shelter or another program, the LAPD sources say they usually see them back on the streets a few days later.
Nonprofits combating sex trafficking like Journey Out are also finding it more difficult to connect with the growing number of sex workers on the streets.
The charity’s executive director, Nayeli May, said often young women don’t even realize they are being trafficked because of the psychological and physical hold pimps have on them. Many are recruited as young as possible from other states and brought to Los Angeles, so there’s less chance of their families intervening.
“When law enforcement used to interact with them — often even before they would even try to press charges — what they used to do is if they recognized this person as possibly being a victim, they would link them with an organization such as ours,” May said.
We would be able to get them some help, but that’s not happening anymore. They can’t even talk to the girls anymore.”
Last month there were a total of six rapes reported in the area, according to the latest data obtained by The Post. A total of 51 rapes in the area have been reported so far this year.
Cmdr. Jon Pinto, assistant commander of the LAPD bureau where the red light district is located, told The Post about 95% of the women who are “working” have pimps, who are closely tied to street gangs.
“Where we work in South Los Angeles, we’re not addressing sex workers where there is a voluntary exchange between two people,” Pinto said.
“What we are doing is addressing the human trafficking at the Figueroa corridor. There is a fear factor or coercion, and in the end, that pimp takes all of the money and she doesn’t get any money back. It’s been an ongoing problem for years, but the corridor has become an area where there’s been an uptick in trafficking victims.”
Pinto said officers on Thursday rescued a 14-year-old who was being trafficked by a pimp at the Figueroa Street corridor.
The problem has become so bad that the city, the LAPD, the LA City Attorney’s Office, local nonprofits, the Department of Children and Family Services and the US Attorney’s Office have banded together and started a new program in September called the “Figueroa Initiative” to help victims of human trafficking.
The Post took a ride down “The Track” on Figueroa — which is still gang territory, with various factions of the Bloods and Crips controlling nearby streets — at 6 p.m. on a Tuesday and saw girls wearing barely-there G-strings and waving to motorists as they passed by.
At the intersection of Figueroa and 96th to 98th streets, traffic backed up into a residential area because the “johns” in their cars were “shopping” and pulled up to the women to talk to them.
Cop cars whizzed by, but the women didn’t even run as the johns parked their cars in the neighborhood.
A young blond woman in a hot pink bikini and a white faux fur bolero jacket posed seductively and smiled for the men as she tried to balance herself on acrylic 6-inch stilettos. Her smile quickly turned to frustration as the cars drove off.
Not too far away from the action was a taco truck, and people who were trying to get a meal got an eyeful as women in raunchy bathing suits walked by.
By 9 p.m., the traffic was so congested that the women walked right up to the row of waiting johns.
About two blocks from that busy corner, a man who was naked from the waist down hassled two prostitutes.
“Why is your d—k out,” one of the women asked, unimpressed, while her friend shooed him away.
Shortly after, the atmosphere quickly changed and became threatening, making it unsafe, so The Post’s reporter and photographer left.
The influx of sex workers hasn’t just been in Los Angeles. Farther south in National City near San Diego, Mayor Ron Morrison has also been sounding the alarm, disgusted by the scantily clad people who have invaded the city’s neighborhoods and are plying their trade.
“Police can’t literally go and talk to them because they don’t have a right to talk to them because they are not doing anything wrong … Even if they are going out talking to someone in their car and sitting there when all they are wearing is less than a G-string,” he told CBS8 news.
He also said prostitutes had been seen near schools and that they are also working the streets day and night.
A mother and her daughter walking from school tried to avoid a prostitute’s gaze as they continued to eat shaved ice from tiny Styrofoam cups.
The young woman, wearing a sports bra and high-cut shorts, kept her eyes on the cars, hoping to spot her next customer.
A few blocks away, a large billboard loomed over the prostitutes and families walking on Figueroa Street.
Splashed across the billboard was a picture of a frail-looking young woman and next to her in bold letters: “Pimps don’t care. We do. There’s a way out.”
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