Two Los Angeles Police Department officers are under investigation for allegedly preying on women over a period of five years, luring them into an unmarked car and forcing them to perform sex acts, according to court records.
Detectives from the LAPD's internal affairs unit suspect that Officers Luis Valenzuela and James Nichols targeted at least four women whom they had arrested previously or who worked for them as informants, according to a search warrant reviewed by The Times.
The pair repeatedly used the threat of jail to get women into their car and drove them to secluded areas where one of the officers demanded sex while the other kept watch, the warrant alleges.
Valenzuela and Nichols worked together until recently as narcotics officers in the Hollywood Division. Investigators have identified four women who encountered the pair and made similar independent accusations against them.
The warrant cites sexually explicit text messages that one alleged victim claims she exchanged with the officers after their encounters. Last month, investigators obtained the woman's cellphone and computers in hopes of finding the messages the officers are alleged to have written. The department has yet to examine the electronic devices, a police official said.
Investigators had planned to confront the officers in a surprise operation early next week, but were forced to accelerate those plans Thursday, when one of the women unexpectedly filed a lawsuit against the officers. Fearing that Valenzuela and Nichols might destroy evidence, investigators rushed to sequester the officers and seize their computers and phones, police confirmed.