Inside LADA

September 24, 2020: Motel Agrees to Curb Sex Trafficking After Nuisance Lawsuit

A Pomona motel agreed to curtail prostitution and human trafficking on its premises after it reached a settlement in a lawsuit filed with the District Attorney’s Office.

This was the first time the office used California consumer protection laws to confront human sex trafficking in Los Angeles County.

“This settlement makes it more difficult for human traffickers to conduct their illegal enterprises in Los Angeles County,” District Attorney Lacey announced on Sept. 4.

“It also serves as a warning to property owners that as we shut down human trafficking operations, we will hold accountable the people who silently gave refuge to these criminals, disregarding their victims and benefiting financially from these crimes,” she added.

In the lawsuit, the District Attorney’s Office alleged that Pomona Lodge Inc. was a public nuisance, violated California’s Red Light Abatement Law and engaged in unlawful business practices.

Under the settlement, the motel’s owner was required to install security cameras at the motel, stop renting rooms by the hour and post the Human Trafficking Awareness notice, as required by law.

The owner also was ordered to pay $9,000 in civil penalties and investigative costs.

The lawsuit stemmed from an undercover investigation by district attorney investigators. Pomona police had received numerous complaints about illicit activity at the motel.

In addition, Ravirajsihn Zala, a desk clerk at the motel, was charged with two felony counts each of human trafficking of a minor for a commercial sex act and pimping. He was accused of renting rooms to sex workers and demanding a portion of their earnings. He faces up to 14 years and eight months in state prison.