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64 Arrested in Van Nuys Vice, Narcotics Sweep

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Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles police made 64 arrests during the weekend in a renewed crackdown on drug dealing and prostitution on Sepulveda Boulevard in Van Nuys, authorities said Sunday.

On Friday night, the combined vice-narcotics operation resulted in 47 arrests on suspicion of buying or selling narcotics and the arrest of two women for soliciting acts of prostitution, said Sgt. Doug Boka. Fifteen men were arrested Saturday night in a similar operation, using five undercover female officers, aimed at men looking for prostitutes, police said.

Reserve officers staffed two buses converted into mobile jails, and volunteers with the Devonshire Division Ham Radio Watch unit videotaped the arrests.

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Residents and business operators, who have complained about crime in the middle-class neighborhood for the last two years, expressed dismay in October when a successful police crackdown on prostitution and drug dealing in the area was suspended.

Councilman Joel Wachs, whose district was altered to include the area, said at that time that he could not afford to continue financial support for an undercover task force in the area. Wachs’ predecessor, Councilman Ernani Bernardi, had paid for the task force with $82,000 in discretionary office funds.

The task force was credited with making more than 300 arrests during the first 10 months of 1986. Residents and business owners complained that prostitutes returned to the boulevard after the task force’s demise.

In January, Wachs told a meeting of angry homeowners that an infusion of at least $3.7 million in special overtime funds for the Los Angeles Police Department offered hope for a renewal of the task force. Police administrators said, however, that the money was needed more to combat street-level drug trafficking than prostitution.

Californians Against Prostitution, formed to fight crime on Sepulveda Boulevard, will meet with Wachs and police officials to discuss the issue at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Monroe High School.

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