'Operation Trick or Treat' cracks down on vice in New Orleans clubs

In an ongoing state-led investigation, authorities have discovered prostitution and drug activity at nine different clubs in New Orleans's French Quarter. 

Matthew Hinton/The New Orleans Advocate/AP
The Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control Commissioner Troy Hebert (second from right) and Louisiana State Police Superintendent Colonel Michael D. Edmonson (r.) announce the details of a month long undercover operation named 'Operation Trick or Treat' naming five strip clubs as having allegedly been locations of acts of prostitution, illegal drug use, and lewd or improper acts, Oct. 27, in front of the Louisiana Supreme Court Building in the French Quarter in New Orleans. Commissioner Hebert on Thursday suspended the liquor and tobacco permits of four additional clubs.

Four clubs along one of New Orleans’s most famous streets have had their alcohol and tobacco permits suspended after authorities found them to be a hotbed of prostitution, drugs, and “lewd acts.”

The Louisiana Alcohol and Tobacco Control issued emergency suspension orders on Thursday to Babe’s Cabaret, Big Daddy’s, Bourbon Cowboy, and the Swamp, which are all clubs along Bourbon Street, a historic 13-block strip in the French Quarter known for its nightlife, The Times-Picayune reports.

In an ongoing state-led investigation dubbed “Operation Trick or Treat,” authorities say they have discovered prostitution and drug activity at Big Daddy’s and Babe’s Cabaret, in addition to “lewd/improper acts.” Illegal drug sales were also found at The Swamp and Bourbon Cowboy.

Undercover agents say they purchased drugs at the clubs and saw dancers consenting to sex acts for money, according to The New Orleans Advocate. Though the violations are considered administrative, not criminal, officials are also conducting a criminal investigation.

"We are in the second month of this operation and it will continue to run through the holidays," ATC commissioner Troy Hebert said in a release, according to the Associated Press. "ATC will continue to do its part to weed out criminal activity at locations that are given the privilege to sell alcohol and tobacco."

Nine French Quarter bars or clubs in total have been accused of illegal activity. Last month, the licenses of five clubs on or near Bourbon Street were suspended after being targeted by the state’s ongoing investigation.

ATC commissioner Hebert told the Advocate he considers the French Quarter to be the “jewel of the state” and said he drew agents from other cities as part of an effort to preserve one of Louisiana's prized investments.

The Louisiana State Police are still deciding if any criminal charges are warranted.

This report contains material from The Associated Press.

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