|IT Based Tactics||✓|
Abilene is a city located in west central Texas in Taylor County, with a population of about 125,000. Among the problems associated with local commercial sex are assaults on prostituted persons. For example, in 2010 a teen-aged male pleaded guilty to raping a prostituted woman, and a 2017 case involved child sex trafficking and sexual abuse materials (CSAM, often called “child pornography” in state criminal laws). In September, 2022, an Abilene woman was arrested for allegedly accepting money from men to have sex with her daughter. The Abilene Police Department began an investigation after being contacted by federal authorities regarding a “child pornography” case. The men would pay the victim’s mother who used the money to buy drugs, and the mother would be present while the men sexually assaulted her daughter.
In an effort to deter local sex buyers and hold them accountable, the Abilene Police Department (APD) incorporated the use of street-level reverse stings in 2005. Operations have been conducted two to three times per year, using one or more female undercover officers as decoys. Web-based operations have also been conducted. Once arrested, sex buyers may have their names and other identifying information released to the public. As per state legislation, solicitors are charged with a Class A or B misdemeanor and jailed; men must post a bond of as much as $750 to be released. Convicted sex buyers are also forced to complete mandatory community service. In their efforts to curtail commercial sex, sex trafficking, and the crimes attracted by the sex trade, Abilene Police have also assisted in the creation of several neighborhood watch programs. APD officers insist that residents’ tips and complaints have been invaluable when tracking prostitution activity in certain areas, and encourage community members to continue to report suspicious activity to local law enforcement.
In December 2017, two Abilene men were arrested after falling for a child sex sting operation. Both were taken into custody after arriving at an arranged meet-up with an undercover officer posing as a 16-year-old online. An arrest report states the undercover officer responded to a personal ad one of the men had placed for sex, claiming to be the 16-year-old. The man acknowledged the undercover officer’s age and still asked for and sent explicit pictures (i.e., CSAM transmitted electronically). Both men have been charged with Online Solicitation of a Minor, and one was also charged with Sexual Performance of a Child Employ Induce/Authorize for the explicit pictures. Their identities were disclosed in news reports.
In May 2018, six men were arrested by the Abilene Police Department on prostitution charges. All six of the men were charged with prostitution, a Class B misdemeanor, and released on $1,000 bond. The Abilene Police Department said that they would release more information about the operation at a later time, to protect the ongoing investigation and officer safety. In December 2019, another five men were arrested in a similar reverse sting, and their photos and identifiers were included in news releases.
In February 2020, 12 men were charged with Class B misdemeanor prostitution as part of an ongoing online prostitution and human trafficking investigation from 2019. The investigation started after police learned that a woman from China was kept in Abilene for 6 days and was trafficked for sex to at least 20 men. Identifying information about the men arrested was released to the public. A Class B misdemeanor prostitution charge can result in a fine of up to $2,000, a maximum of 180 days in jail, or a combination of both.
In August, 2022, the Abilene Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety collaborated in the arrest of 12 people during an operation involving an undercover female police officer, and targeted an area along South First Street. The suspects, all male, were arrested while meeting with the undercover female officer, who they thought was a prostituted woman, and paying for services. All 12 suspects were charged with State Jail Felony Solicitation of Prostitution.
Employment loss is another consequence of buying sex that has occurred in the city. For example, in February, 2020, an Abilene teacher charged in a human trafficking case resigned as an 8th grade math teacher at Mann Middle School. He had been on administrative leave since December, 2019, when he was identified as one of 20 men police implicated in a cyber crimes investigation. Police said they believed the man and 19 others paid to have sex with a trafficked woman at an Abilene hotel. The victim had been flown to Abilene by her “controllers” from another state, and as a result, the FBI was also investigating.
- Abilene Police Department
- Interested Citizens of Abilene North (I-CAN)
- Abilene Independent School District
National Assessment Survey
Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- “16 Men, 4 Women Arrested in Daytime Prostitution Sting”, Abilene Reporter-News, March 3 2008.
- “Prostitution Arrest”, BigCountryHomepage.com, March 3 2008.
- “Five Big Country Men Arrested During Prostitution Sting Operation”, BigCountryHomepage.com, March 22 2012.
- http://www.bigcountryhomepage.com/2-abilene-men-fall-for-craigslist-child-sex-sting (2017)
- http://www.bigcountryhomepage.com/at-least-3-arrested-for-prostitution-in-abilene (2018)
- http://www.bigcountryhomepage.com/6-men-now-arrested-in-abilene-police-prostitution-sting-operation (2018)
- http://ktxs.com/abilene/6-men-arrested-in-abilene-police-prostitution-sting (2018)
- https://www.reporternews.com/abilene-police-chief-13-arrested-2-day-online-child-sex-sting (2019)
- https://www.bigcountryhomepage.com/13-arrested-during-child-predator-sting-in-abilene/ (2019)
- https://www.bigcountryhomepage.com/5-suspects-including-acu-student-arrested-during-prostitution-sting-in-abilene/ (2019)
- https://www.reporternews.com/abilene-prostitution-charges-against-12-men-human-trafficking-online-solicitation (2020)
- https://www.reporternews.com/abilene-police-arrest-12-on-prostitution-charges (2022)
- https://www.bigcountryhomepage.com/9-men-arrested-in-abilene-for-soliciting-minors-prostitution/ (2023)
- https://ktxs.com/multiple-local-men-arrested-for-online-solicitation-of-minor-paying-for-prostitution (2023)
- “Sting Targets Carver Area: Abilene Undercover Police Net Drug, Prostitution Arrests”, Abilene News-Reporter, December 14 2006.
- “Neighborhood Posts Signs to Deter Drug Use”, Abilene News-Reporter, June 24 2007.
- “Car Show Helps Raise Money for Carver Neighborhood Group I-CAN”, Abilene News-Reporter, October 15 2011.
- https://ktxs.com/abilene-teacher-charged-with-on-prostitution-submits-resignation (2020)
- https://ktxs.com/abilene-isd-teacher-idd-in-cyber-crimes-investigation-put-on-leave (2020)
Background on Local Prostitution, Sex Trafficking, CSAM, Child Endangerment, Other Related Crime:
- “Abilene Police Execute Successful Prostitution Sting”, BigCountyHomepage.com, March 23 2012.
- “Abilene Police Cracking Down on Prostitution”, KTXS-TV 12, March 26 2012.
- http://www.lubbockonline.com/convicted-murderer-arrested-prostitution-sting-indicted (2016)
- https://www.dallasnews.com/abilene-man-accused-molesting-child-may-victims-police-say (2018)
- https://ktxs.com/abilene-isd-teacher-19-other-men-suspects-in-human-trafficking-investigation (2019)
- https://www.reporternews.com/abilene-woman arrested–sex-trafficking-her-child-daughter (2022)
- https://www.myfoxzone.com/human-trafficking-arrest-made-in-abilene (2023)
- https://www.bigcountryhomepage.com/endangered-child-recovered-from-abilene-motel-during-human-trafficking-investigation/ (2023)