Belton, 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

Belton is a city of about 24,000 residents located in Bell County, Texas. Other noteworthy cities within Bell County include Belton, Killeen, Nolanville, Salado, Temple, and Copperas Cove. Prostitution activity has been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated 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 are sex trafficking, child endangerment, child sexual abuse materials (CSAM, often called “child pornography” in state law) and violence committed against people involved in these transactions. For example, in March, 2021, the Belton Police Department contacted the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office Human Trafficking/ Child Exploitation unit requesting assistance with a local case with ties to McLennan County. An investigation revealed that a 57-year-old man had contacted someone and offered to pay money in exchange for having sexual relations with a child. During communication with that person, the suspect sent CSAM. The McLennan County Sheriff’s Office obtained two felony arrest warrants for Prostitution of a Minor and Distribution of Child Pornography. Sheriff’s Office Detectives arrested the man in March at the place of his employment.

Consumer-level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies in their strategy for prevention and response. For example, in November 2017,  a one-day internet based reverse sting operation led to the arrest of 10 sex buyers.  The 10 men were all released after posting bond. Two former local school district employees were among the men arrested, the Bell County Sheriff’s Department announced.  In February 2018, the Bell County Sheriff’s Department led the local part of the “National Johns Suppression” operation.  The  nationwide coalition of federal and local law enforcement agencies specifically targeting customers of prostitution, and was aimed at reducing demand for purchased sex.  Bell County sheriff’s deputies assisted by officers from Bryan and Temple arrested 30 men in a two-day initiative aimed at arresting individuals seeking sex for money. One of the 30, a Fort Hood soldier, had a knife, six strands of rope, duct tape and a body bag in his vehicle, authorities said Thursday. Among those arrested were businessmen, four Fort Hood soldiers, two men who are currently on probation for unrelated offenses and three who were transferred to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

In August, 2021, eight men were arrested after allegedly soliciting paid sex online from a person they believed to be an underage teenager.  The Bell County Sheriff’s Department Criminal Investigations Division assisted the Texas Department of Public Safety in conducting an online prostitution of a minor operation in Belton.  Photos and names of the arrested offenders were publicized.  The eight men were charged with Solicitation of Prostitution from a person under 18 years of age. Two of the men were active-duty military and two other men traveled over two hours to meet the person believed to be a juvenile female. The eight men were transported to the Bell County Jail. In May, 2022 five suspects were indicted for solicitation of prostitution by the Bell County Indictment court after they had been arrested in a reverse sting. The Bell County Sheriff’s Department conducted the sting in April, 2022 at a hotel in Belton where they had arranged to meet after they responded to online prostitution advertisements. The suspects agreed to pay the undercover deputy money for sexual conduct. The men’s identities were included in news reports.

Not all sex buyer arrests are the result of sting operations using police decoys. Some are the product of investigations of alleged offenses against real victims.  For example, in April, 2021, McLennan County Sheriff’s Office officials arrested a man after he tried to solicit sex and sexually explicit images from two underage girls and sent child pornography to their mother, an arrest affidavit stated. The man was arrested on a second-degree felony charge of prostitution of a minor and a second-degree felony charge of possession of child pornography. The children’s mother reported that the man, who she had a relationship with in 2015, started sending her messages on Facebook with sexually explicit requests involving her and her daughters. He sent a message trying to solicit oral sex from one of the daughters in exchange for money, then sent a message containing child sexual abuse materials, the affidavit stated.  The mother reported the first incidents to the Belton Police Department, and the message containing child pornography triggered a National Center for Missing and Exploited Children cyber tip that identified the man as the person who sent the image, according to the document.

Key Partners

  • Bell County Sheriff’s Department
  • Belton Police Department
State Texas
Type City
Population 23845
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