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How LA’s fight against sex trafficking is hurting vulnerable women

The message has been delivered by Los Angeles leaders time and again in recent years: Local law enforcement is cracking down on human traffickers.

Police and elected officials have promised L.A. is leading the way when it comes to locking up bad guys and rescuing their victims — hidden in massage parlors and motel rooms, truck stops and residential brothels.

KPCC/LAist took a close look at L.A.’s anti-sex trafficking efforts and found that operations ensnared female sex workers far more often than any traffickers, and the women arrested rarely ended up in programs designed to get them out of the sex trade.

Another finding stands out: While black women make up around 9% of the city’s female population, they account for nearly 65% of the LAPD’s female prostitution arrests.