Jindal: ‘We need to get her off the street’
Not even 25, Darneesha Lashay Martin stands accused of spinning a web of manicures, clothes and other beauty boosts that ensnared young girls into a life of sex peddling.
Gov. Bobby Jindal and State Police Col. Mike Edmonson used a shadowy picture of Martin as a backdrop Friday to highlight a loose end in a seven-week crackdown called Carpe Diem.
Targeting highways and problem areas across Louisiana, roughly 160 state troopers launched their effort in late October and seized millions of dollars in drugs, recovered 100 weapons, made more than 1,000 arrests and rescued three trafficked minors. They concentrated on criminal activities cited by local sheriffs and police as a top priority.
Martin — who is from the Lafayette area — still is a missing piece.
“She’s out there. She’s wanted ... We need to get her off the street,” Jindal said during a press conference at the State Police compound in Baton Rouge.
Nearby were the spoils of the State Police operation. A chain separated half a ton of neatly bundled marijuana from the rest of the room. Photos of alleged offenders flashed on a screen.
“This should be a warning to all those criminals out there,” Jindal said. “Let Carpe Diem serve as a warning. We will catch you.”
The list of what Carpe Diem accomplished is extensive.
- 151 dosage units of narcotics, crack cocaine and a stolen handgun on Nov. 5.
- 44 pounds of marijuana on Nov. 12.
- Marijuana plants and cash on Nov. 25.
- Stolen trailers and motorcyles on Nov. 27.
- $7,000 in stolen jewelry on Dec. 3.
- $150,000 in U.S. currency, 30 weapons, two stolen firearms, powdered cocaine and crack cocaine on Dec. 6.
Edmonson said he focused all disciplines of law enforcement on the effort. Carpe Diem involved patrol units, detectives, narcotics officers, special crimes units, intelligence officers and air support. “The basic human need is to feel safe,” he said.
Through Carpe Diem, a child sex-trafficking case involving runaways came into focus. State Police believe 19-year-old Alcoby Con LaSalle and Martin, 22, worked together to prostitute 16-year-old runaways in the Lafayette area.
Trooper 1st Class Stephen Hammons said Martin pretended to befriend two girls, buying them clothing and splashing out to get their nails done. “She manipulated them. She would coerce them, manipulate them,” he said.
Edmonson said Martin made the girls feel pretty and then sold their bodies through classified ad sites on the Internet. The girls were driven to dates with men. State Police intercepted one of the trips and rescued the girls.
LaSalle gave himself up for arrest on Nov. 27. He was booked with trafficking children for sexual purposes and promoting prostitution.
Still at large is Martin, who may be living in a hotel. She is 5 feet, 6 inches, weighing 115 pounds. Her hair may be dyed red. Like LaSalle, she is wanted for trafficking children for sexual purposes and promoting prostitution.
Martin’s Facebook page indicates she last updated it in late November, the same time State Police started looking for her. A friend warned her in misspelled message: “Your all on tv.”
Jindal said there will be another chapter in the crackdown on sex trafficking. “These are some of the most horrifying cases. They’re not victimless crimes. They’re awful, awful crimes,” the governor said.