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Dozens are arrested in raid at downtown hostess club

November 8, 2010 |  4:06 pm

Nearly 90 people, most of them women, have been arrested on suspicion of prostitution, lewd conduct, gambling and the use of counterfeit identification at a downtown hostess club, Los Angeles police said Monday.

Nearly three dozen officers, led by the LAPD's Central Division vice unit, participated in the operation at Club 907 at 9th and Hill streets Friday night. They reportedly found 400 people in a space with a permitted capacity of 250.

The LAPD regulates such clubs, and the bust grew out of a routine check of business conditions two months ago, Lt. Paul Vernon said.

At the time, the officers found dozens of female dancers employed by the club with false identification for purposes of employment and found evidence that most were engaging in prostitution, Vernon said.

"They found so many violations in this routine check, they realized the problem must go much deeper," Vernon said. "They investigated and ultimately obtained the search warrant that was served Friday and resulted in the arrests."

The club charges $30 per hour, with discounts on certain days of the week. The hostess clubs, which are permitted by the Los Angeles Police Commission, are prohibited from serving alcohol and do not allow nudity or other adult entertainment.

As at most hostess clubs, patrons at Club 907 pay the women for time and companionship, which can include talking, buying nonalcoholic drinks or dancing, Vernon said.

But he said that during the two-month investigation, undercover LAPD officers witnessed lewd conduct. On Friday, officers did not witness sex acts, but Vernon said that the club was well beyond capacity when the officers arrived.

Of the 88 people arrested, seven were men, Vernon said.

"While some people may look at these crimes as minor or even victimless," Vernon said, "they serve to enable human trafficking, which especially victimizes women and immigrants."

-- Andrew Blankstein