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Minassians co-authored a study that found that dealing with environmental factors such as large trees and lack of lighting is vital in curbing human trafficking. It was part of an effort, backed by a new Cal State Northridge study, to curb human trafficking in the San Fernando Valley and to crack down on pimps that roam local streets.
Among those streets have been Sepulveda and Lankershim boulevards, longtime hubs of Valley prostitution. The research, conducted by Henrik Minassians and David Lopez from CSUN, examined environmental factors that allow prostitution and human trafficking to take hold.
Cheap motels, industrial buildings, dark alleyways and heavy traffic line both streets. So do trees, which hide illegal activity. Pimps and prostitutes use businesses, schools and churches that have parking lots that are open or not gated, Minassians said, referencing his study and east and west Sepulveda. There were nine locations where trees should be trimmed, Minassians said. They found other environmental factors, including abandoned buildings and businesses that are focal points of illegal activity.
Martinez, whose district includes Van Nuys, Sun Valley and Panorama City, said in a Thursday news conference that last year, 22 pimps were arrested in the area. A billboard behind her said johns were arrested. We must be creative and persistent and use all of our city resources to create a better neighborhood for everyone involved.
Light poles were also installed recently on some of the streets identified in the study. Police said they were doing their part, and committed to measures that can help crack down on the problem. In , officials said, a task force had made more than arrests, issued more than 3, citations and rescued 10 victims in the area of Lankershim and Sepulveda corridors. Authorities also were cracking down on 13 problem motels in the area, where they said prostitution takes place.