Woman wanted on sex trafficking count arrested, returned to Lafayette

The Lafayette woman suspected of using clothes and manicures to lure young girls into a life of prostitution was taken back to Lafayette in handcuffs Monday and booked into the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center on counts of trafficking children for sex and promoting prostitution, State Police said.

Darneesha Lashay Martin, 22, had been wanted since late November after she and a Lafayette man were targeted by State Police for allegedly enticing young girls into prostitution. The man, 19-year-old Alcoby Con LaSalle, surrendered shortly after State Police announced they were looking for him.

Martin remained on the loose until authorities caught her in Houston on Jan. 18. She was booked into the Correctional Center at 2 p.m. Monday, where no bail was set, Trooper 1st Class Stephen Hammons said.

The arrests of Martin and LaSalle came as part of a State Police investigation called Operation Carpe Diem, a two-month operation that brought in many arrests across Louisiana for alleged crimes including illegal narcotics trafficking, weapons violations, theft, fugitive warrants, human trafficking, juvenile pornography and sex offender violations.

Martin was singled out by Gov. Bobby Jindal and State Police Col. Mike Edmonson on Dec. 20 as the lone fugitive who escaped after police started arresting suspects in Operation Carpe Diem.

Martin and LaSalle are suspected of prostituting 16-year-old female runaways in Lafayette by using classified ad sites on the Internet to set up appointments.

Some of the girls were intercepted by State Police as they showed up for a date with a customer, Hammons said.