Amarillo, TX

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Cameras
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
Letters
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Amarillo is a city of approximately 200,000 residents, located two hours north of Lubbock, and lies within both Potter County and Randall County Texas. Residents and local law enforcement have reported problems with prostitution in the city for decades, specifically along Amarillo Boulevard. Cases of sex trafficking of children and the murder of prostituted women have also been documented in the city.

In efforts to reduce demand for commercial sex in the city and surrounding areas, the Amarillo Police Department has adopted several demand-driven tactics to identify and apprehend local sex buyers. Police conduct periodic street-level reverse stings, using undercover female officers as decoys. When sex buyers attempt to solicit sex from the women, they are arrested. These operations have at times resulted in the arrest of about 10 sex buyers in a single evening. Arrested men may have their names publicized in local media outlets. For example, a street-level reverse sting occurred in December 2013, in which six men were arrested on Amarillo Boulevard. Undercover female officers posing as prostituted women approached suspected male sex buyers who were interested in engaging in sexual activities in exchange for money. All six of the arrested sex buyers were booked into the Potter County Corrections Center on prostitution and related charges.

Web-based reverse stings have also been conducted in Amarillo. For example, in September, 2017, seven men were arrested during a joint online operation targeting child predators. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), the online operation and was assisted by Homeland Security and the West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) Police Department. DPS said seven suspects were arrested and booked into the Randall County Jail on a variety of charges, including Compelling Prostitution Child Younger than 18 years of age, and Online Solicitation of a Minor. In September 2018, a similar operation occurred, resulting in the arrest of six men for online solicitation of a minor in Amarillo. The Amarillo Police Department had received information over the prior year and half that several local teenage girls were involved in sex trafficking. The APD Special Victims Unit and ProActive Criminal Enforcement unit (PACE) conducted an undercover operation with Special Victims Unit Detectives posing as 15 and 16 year old girls. The suspects initiated contact with the undercover officer by text messages, arranging to engage in commercial sex with the decoy officers, who suspects believed to be teenage girls. When the suspects arrived at the agreed upon location they were arrested, interviewed and booked into the Randall County Jail for online solicitation of a minor, a felony offense. In March 2021, another large scale sex trafficking/prostitution operation resulted in 37 arrests, mostly of males on prostitution charges. The Amarillo Police Department has publicly disclosed identities of arrested sex buyers by posting the names and pictures of those arrested on social media. In August, 2021, another operation produced the arrest of 27 individuals, majorly male sex buyers. In September, 2021, the state of Texas elevates paying for prostitution from a Class B misdemeanor to a state jail felony.

In 2016, the organization No Boundaries International opened a chapter in Amarillo, specifically focusing on prostitution and sex trafficking. In addition to prevention and victim services, the group launched a “john school” course for those who pay for sex. In response to a survey conducted in 2022 by the NCOSE team for a National Institute of Justice grant to update and expand Demand Forum (Grant #2020-75-CX-0011), representatives from No Boundaries International – Amarillo reported that a john school does exist in the city however, only one class has been held. The organization intends to officially launch the program once sufficient and sustainable funding is available.

Loss of employment is another consequence of buying sex that has occurred within the county. For example, in October, 2014, a pastor at an Amarillo church resigned from his post after being arrested Texas Department of Public Safety officers while with a prostituted woman at a local motel. The pastor had served at the Hillside Christian Church’s Hillside Canyon campus since 2009. The pastor penned a letter to be read to the church’s congregation, admitting to knowingly booking an appointment for an “inappropriate sexual encounter.”

Key Partners

  • Amarillo Police Department
    • Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving Unit
    • Narcotics Division
    • Special Victims Unit
    • ProActive Criminal Enforcement Unit (PACE)
  • Homeland Security Investigations
  • West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) Police Department
  • Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission
  • Family Support Services Amarillo
  • No Boundaries International

Key Sources

Sex Buyer Arrests, Identity Disclosure:

Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Web-Based Reverse Stings:

Sex Buyer Fired or Resigned Due to Arrest:

John School:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State Texas
Type City
Population 198955
Location
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