The trailers set up to house thousands of victims of Hurricane Katrina have turned into hot spots for drug dealers, prostitutes and even murderers, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.
People continue to live in the trailers as they wait for repairs or rebuilding of their homes. But police say criminals can live there at the fringes of society and go unchecked by authorities.
U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu on Tuesday called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency to share more information on trailer residents with police, especially in New Orleans, where a wave of murders has threatened to further slow the city's recovery. New Orleans has 47,000 people living in trailers.
Many communities had cringed at the prospect of trailer parks in their backyard, and politicians bickered over where to place them.
At least three murders have taken place at trailers in New Orleans in recent months, the most recent one on New Year's Eve.
About 3,000 people live in more than 20 large communities of trailers in New Orleans, FEMA said. There is no deadline for disbanding the sites. The other trailers are placed outside homes.
FEMA did not immediately respond to questions about its crime statistics at trailer sites, how security is managed there or how information on residents is managed. Some police officials said FEMA has not been cooperative even as the crime wave spread from the city to the suburbs.
"It's not a neighborhood really. People stay to themselves. It's a brave new world out here," said John Doran, chief of detectives in St. Bernard Parish in suburban New Orleans.
Initially, FEMA's private security guards checked who entered the sites, but screening has become lax, Doran said.
He said deputies have made more than 100 drug arrests at the parish's three trailer sites in the past three months.