Brownsville, TX

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Web stings
License suspension

Brownsville is a city of about 183,886 residents located at the southernmost tip of Texas’ Cameron County, near Harlingen and McAllen and directly across the border from Matamoros, Mexico. Prostitution and sex trafficking have posed persistent and visible problems in the community for at least two decades, and have generated complaints to police.

Multiple cases of sex trafficking of minors and adults– brought to the U.S. from Mexico and forced into prostitution– have been reported. In May 2015, for example, an adult male trafficker was arrested during a Brownsville Police Department-led investigation at a motel for compelling the prostitution of a 16-year-old girl he had met online and “convinced to sell drugs and begin prostituting.” Three additional men were also arrested during the operation; although some media outlets described the offenders as having “solicited” the victim for acts of prostitution, each was ultimately charged with sexual assault of a child. The details of the investigation were not disclosed. All of the men’s names, ages, professions, and mugshots were released to the public. The BPD was assisted in its efforts by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Office of Professional Responsibility, Homeland Security Investigation Brownsville detectives, and the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force.

BPD officers have also conducted “traditional” reverse stings since at least 1995. Such operations have utilized female undercover officers and police informants as decoy sex sellers. During the stings, the decoys may stroll areas known for prostitution activity. When individuals approach the decoy and make an offer of money for sex, they are arrested by a BPD backup team.

Law enforcement have also released the names and other identifying information about all individuals arrested for prostitution-related offenses– including women offering acts of prostitution– since at least 1995.

Key Partners

  • Brownsville Police Department
  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Professional Responsibility
  • U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force
  • Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Brownsville

Key Sources

State Texas
Type City
Population 183886
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