Aransas County is a county located along the eastern coast of Texas that has the population of approximately 23,000 residents. The county seat is Rockport, TX. In addition to other communities such as Fulton, Holiday Beach, and Lamar, parts of Corpus Christi are also in Aransas County. Prostitution and sex trafficking have a history of being documented in the county. Prostitution-related activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. For example, in 2011, a local business owner wrote a letter of complaint to the Rockport City Council addressing the significant amount of prostitution and drug related activity and the deleterious effects that this type of activity had on his business.
To combat the issue, county and local agencies have adopted aggressive and comprehensive approaches to identify and apprehend sex buyers. For example, in January of 2015, three individuals were arrested and charged in connection with criminal activity related to prostitution at a local massage business. According to the Aransas County Sheriff’s Office, the investigation began after a local businessperson operating in the area complained of suspected prostitution-related activity occurring at the spa. Residents also claimed that men regularly made appointments at the spa but women who requested appointments were denied. The investigation included surveillance of the business and the use of undercover officers. Undercover officers repeatedly entered the business requesting for massages and/or spa treatment and each time were offered additional services of “oral” or “manual” sex by spa employees. Undercover officials turned down the additional services. The ACSO found information regarding “escort services” and “sexual services” offered by the business on their website. With assistance from the District Attorney, Mike Welborn, the ACSO was able to obtain an affidavit for a search warrant. In addition to making the arrests, officers also seized a large sum money believed to be proceeds from the illicit massage business. Three offenders were arrested, two women and one male sex buyer. The women were arrested on charges of prostitution, engaging in organized criminal activity, and money laundering. The male sex buyer was arrested and charged with prostitution. The offenders’ identities, ages, locations, and charges were released to local news sources. According to officials, the business was linked with other businesses going east and west of Texas, but no links were found north of Texas. The Rockport Police Department stated that this was the second illicit massage business apprehended in Rockport in two years.
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
Reverse Sting, Shaming: