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Sting operation scores 20 arrests for solicitations

By LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / November 9, 1998

KENNER – Want to find a prostitute for a quick encounter? Stay out of Kenner, local police say.

That’s the message voiced in a recent undercover sting operation targeting men soliciting prostitutes on Airline Highway. In three sweeps, done Oct.8, Oct. 16 and Nov. 4, 20 men were arrested, including two from the RiverParishes.

Local men arrested were Dev Persaud, 33, 119 Good Hope St., Norco,charged with crimes against nature, and Michael Clayton, 34, of Paulina, charged with soliciting for prostitution.

Sgt. Steve Caraway of the Kenner Police Department said the department’sCitizen Report Card program generated complaints from citizens which the officers followed up on by planting an undercover female officer and using surveillance audio and video equipment to sting the “customers.”The stings covered the entire stretch of Airline Highway from St. CharlesParish to the Jefferson Parish line. Each evening, the undercover officerwould place herself near the street and men in cars would pull over and call her up to solicit intercourse or other sexual acts.

Caught on tape after negotiating price, each man would be swept up by watching officers and hauled away. Minutes later, the scene would beclear for the next man.

Altogether, Caraway said, the three sweeps lasted a total of four hours, averaging one arrest every 12 minutes. “That’s pretty significant,”Caraway observed.

The others arrested included clients from near and far, with five from Kenner, two from Metairie, one from Jefferson, one from Marrero and others from places as far as Violet, Tickfaw, Baton Rouge, Woodstock, Ga.,Duncanville, Texas and Crosby, Miss.

The undercover officer had no competition during the sweeps, Caraway added, as the real prostitutes spotted the officers immediately and moved their operations elsewhere.

Soliciting for prostitution is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $500 fine. Crimes against nature is a felony witha maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $2,000 fine.

“It doesn’t take long until they’ve broken the law,” Caraway said. “Wehave zero tolerance for that.”

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