Contractors, tradesmen and migrant workers have been pouring into town to take advantage of the post-Katrina rebuilding boom, and so have prostitutes, police officials said in announcing a crackdown on the French Quarter's illicit sex trade.

Working with a grant, police talked to residents and business owners in the Central Business District, the French Quarter and the adjacent Faubourg Marigny and complaints about prostitution were the first thing they heard, Capt. Kevin Anderson, commander of the district said Tuesday.

"Everyone talked about the increase in prostitution, street hustlers, panhandlers," Anderson said. "We keep telling people to visit us, telling conventions to come to town, so we need to have the streets look cleaner and safer."

Prostitutes from Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Detroit and Las Vegas have been found working New Orleans streets, Anderson said. He said police arrested 53 women on prostitution charges during a recent two-week crackdown.

"Obviously contractors are here in the city, a lot of the migrant workers are here, they carry cash on them and it became a playground in a sense," said police superintendent Warren Riley.

With the availability of more bed space in Orleans Parish Prison than before, those arrested on prostitution charges will be held in jail until they make bail, meaning they should spend at least a day or two incarcerated, Anderson said.

"Because these are municipal offenses, they were not being maintained in jail, so they would get out of jail, come right back into the Quarter," Riley said.

Anderson said the city wants to make it so uncomfortable for out-of-town prostitutes that they will go home or at least go elsewhere.