COMPTON, CA (FOX 11) - Residents in neighborhoods on one of Compton’s busiest streets were fed up with a human trafficking problem they said was growing due to city officials’ lackluster response.
On Long Beach Boulevard from Rosecrans to Alondra streets, scantily dressed, young women can be seen looking down at their cell phones while walking on both sides on the street.
Neighbors said at first glance, the women could easily blend in as residents dressed with minimal clothing because it was hot outside.
But then cars would pull up and the women would walk up to the drivers and passengers and begin talking with them sometimes right in the middle of the street.
One neighbor, who didn’t want to be identified on camera due to fear of retaliation, said the women could be seen loitering sex at all hours of the days and nights.
“It makes me feel very uncomfortable. I mean this is something that’s against the law, as we all know, and nothing is being done about it,” he told reporter Leah Uko. “They’re not afraid of walking up to your car. If you do try to record them or try to report them, they’re not even running away.”
Other neighbors said the women would often use their apartment complex’s parking lot as a location for sexual activity.
“If this was somewhere like Culver City or Beverly Hills, I think this problem would be eliminated within a day or a week’s time.”
When FOX 11 visited a complex, used condoms were on the ground in the lot.
As evening hours approached, more women would come out to attract customers.
Mike Dardashti owns property on the street. He said after getting complaints from neighbors about the prostitution traveling to their area, he was going to look into having a fence installed that would close off the property.
But he said the city was giving him the runaround with getting approved.
Darshati was unavailable to speak at the time FOX 11 covered this story, but said he would speak at a later time.
The issue was also affecting nearby businesses.
Charles Jones, who worked at R.O.A.D.S Community Care Clinic, said many times the women’s’ pimps would force them to approach patients waiting to go into the clinic.
“Guys pull up in their cars and the ladies be in the car doing whatever,” Jones said.
Jones said the site of seeing the young girls selling sex didn’t make him angry, but rather sad.
“I have all girls. This here, it doesn’t make no sense really.”
Residents reached out to Compton mayor, Aja Brown on Twitter back in September 2017.
Brown responded, tweeting the city had worked on the issue for years by launching diversion services and other programs dedicated to treatment instead of criminalization.
She added in another tweet that, “it takes community members to get involved. Problems are easy to identify, working toward solutions takes commitment, hard work.”
Lieutenant Barry Hall with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Human Trafficking Bureau said another issue with ending the “oldest profession” was lack of manpower and funding.
He told Uko when the women are arrested, they can only be held for 24 to 48 hours then released. And whenever deputies patrolled one area, the women and their exploiters would relocate to other areas.
Hall said the bureau was working to tackle the issue by going after the sexual exploiters and customers, rather the women because they were considered as victims, not criminals.
This was an approach one resident said gave the women too much of a break.
“If the situation is that someone is a victim, if they get arrested and they get into a program where they can be rehabilitated that’s great. But if they get that opportunity once and they come back out on the streets to do it again, then I don’t understand what the problem is. They should be arrested just like any other criminal. They’re breaking the law.”