Arlington, TX

Tactics Used

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

Arlington is a city within the DallasFort Worth Metroplex (DFW) in the state of Texas. It is located within Tarrant County and has an estimated population of about 393,000 residents. Prostitution activity has been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities, and in other areas of the county. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is sex trafficking. Prostitution related violence has also occurred within the city.

Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. In 1990, the Arlington Police Department began focusing on demand by conducting periodic reverse stings. In 2006, the Arlington Police Department conducted a systematic study of prostitution in the city, and of methods of combating it. The study led to recommendations for action, and a plan was formed that was known collectively as “Operation Spotlight.” This was a comprehensive approach to address supply, distribution, and demand for commercial sex. The demand component focused on intensified reverse stings. The Arlington Police Department had a small Vice Unit with only one female at the time, limiting their ability to conduct large-scale reverse stings. This capacity was bolstered by selecting several female patrol officers and training them in prostitution decoy operations. Patrol units from the force assisted in the planning and support of undercover operations.

From December 2006 to March 2007, a total of 220 arrests for prostitution were made along the Division Street and Watson Road corridor (Ayala and White, 2008). Once arrested, sex buyers had their names posted to the APD’s official website, and press releases were provided to the media. In addition, “Dear John” postcards were sent to the home addresses of arrestees, to discourage the men from reoffending and alert others in the home that the individual was allegedly engaged in high-risk behavior. Civilian patrols were also formed that would record apparent “cruising” behavior of potential sex buyers, and forward the information to police. SOAP orders were also established, prohibiting sex buyers from entering certain parts of the city known for high levels of street prostitution. While Operation Spotlight lasted just under two years, a similar anti-prostitution initiative (dubbed the “You Never Know” Campaign) soon followed. The APD continues to use many demand-driven tactics on an “as needed” basis, whether it be in response to community complaints or in preparation for an influx of tourists and visitors (e.g., the 2011 Super Bowl).

In January, 2023, forty-six individuals were recently arrested during a multi-agency operation – that included the Frisco Police Department – targeting the demand for commercial sex across North Texas. The joint law enforcement operation coincided with the Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign to highlight Human Trafficking awareness month.  Among those arrested were a volunteer firefighter, youth pastor, a high school teacher and football coach, and the director of operations for a large hospital network in North Texas. About the operation, the Tarrant County Sheriff said:

“The victims of these heinous crimes are treated like commodities, used to make as much money as possible, as quickly as possible. Those who traffic victims are the scourge of the earth, and we will continue to target those responsible for the trafficking and those who solicit sex from them.”

Key Partners

  • Arlington Police Department


Key Sources

National Assessment Survey (2012)

Reverse Stings:

Web-Based Stings:

Identity Disclosure:

SOAP Orders:


Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

  • (1800s, early 1900s)
  • “Prostitution Moves to Part of Arlington Traffic Flow from Fort Worth, Upsets West Division Merchants”, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, August 17 1993.
  • “Zero Tolerance Arlington Declares War on Prostitution”, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, August 18 1993.
  • “Law Targets Prostitution”, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, November 25 2001.
  • “City Determined to Clean Up 2 Long-Blighted Corridors”, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, August 4 2007.
  • “Arlington Police Made 59 Prostituted-Related Arrests in Run-Up to Super Bowl”, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, February 15 2011.
  • (2019)

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution:

State Texas
Type City
Population 392786
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