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.
- 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
- Street-Level Reverse Stings with Shaming:
- “Detectives Pose as Prostitutes, Arrest 11 Men,” Brownsville Herald, March 28 1995.
- “Police: Jailer, BISD Employee among Men Arrested for Soliciting Undercover Cop,” Brownsville Herald, March 15 2010.
- “Jailer, School Employee among Dozen Arrested in Brownsville Prostitution Sting,” McAllen Monitor, March 16 2010.
- Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Indictment: Girls Found Enslaved in Prostitution Ring,” Boca Raton News, April 24 1998.
- “One Man in Prostitution Ring Arrested,” Ocala Star-Banner, April 26 1999.
- “Senators Hear Tales of Worldwide Prostitution ‘Slavery,'” Wilmington Morning Star, February 23 2000.
- “Alleged Prostitute Smuggler Held without Bond,” Brownsville Herald, May 6 2009.
- “Brownsville Couple Sentenced for Smuggling Aliens for Prostitution,” News Release, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, December 17 2009.
- “Couple Sentenced for Using Undocumented Immigrants as Prostitutes,” Brownsville Herald, December 17 2009.
- “Police: Man Compelled Teen into Prostitution,” Brownsville Herald, May 11 2015.
- “Police: Man Used Brownsville Hotel to Pimp 16-Year-Old Girl He Met Online,” Brownsville Herald, May 11 2015.
- “Four Arrested for Soliciting Prostitution of Teenage Girl in Brownsville,” CBS/KLBK-TV 40, May 12 2015.
- “South Texas Man Allegedly Pimped 16-Year-Old Girl at Motel after Meeting Her on Social Media,” San Antonio Express-News, May 12 2015.
- Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Brownsville Cracking down on Prostitution,” Dallas Morning News, March 22 1995.
- “Alleged Illegal Activities, Prostitution Could Condemn Complex,” Brownsville Herald, March 27 1999.
- “Police Raid Attempts to Reduce Prostitution,” Brownsville Herald, June 13 2002.
- “Police Crackdown on Prostitution,” Brownsville Herald, February 24 2004.
- “Police Bust Alleged Prostitution Ring,” Brownsville Herald, October 22 2004.
- “Head of Alleged Prostitution Ring Released on Bond,” Brownsville Herald, October 23 2004.
- “Man Says Prostitute Stole His Money,” Brownsville Herald, July 14 2005.
- “Six Women Arrested on Prostitution Charges,” Brownsville Herald, December 30 2005.
- “Two Arrested for Prostitution Downtown,” Brownsville Herald, August 13 2008.
- “5 Arrested in Weekend Prostitution Roundup,” Harlingen Valley Morning Star, September 30 2008.
- “Police Briefs,” Brownsville Herald, October 13 2008.
- “PD Continues Crackdown on Prostitution,” Brownsville Herald, October 19 2008.
- “BISD Secretary Arrested for Prostitution after Posting Ad on Craigslist,” Brownsville Herald, March 6 2009.
- “BISD Secretary Accused of Prostitution Resigns from School District,” Brownsville Herald, March 9 2009.
- “Police Raid House on Suspicion of Prostitution,” Brownsville Herald, May 5 2009.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets Four Arrests,” Brownsville Herald, August 17 2009.
- “Four Women Arrested in Brownsville Massage Parlor Sting,” Brownsville Herald, March 3 2010.
- “Effort to Rein in Massage Parlors Advances,” Brownsville Herald, August 4 2010.
- “Legitimate Businesses Question Spa Ordinance,” Brownsville Herald, August 10 2010.
- “Man Arrested on Prostitution Charge,” Brownsville Herald, May 14 2012.
- “Downtown Prostitution Sting Leads to 2nd Arrest,”
- “3 Charged with Prostitution after Downtown Sting,” Brownsville Herald, September 18 2013.
- “More Downtown Prostitution Arrests,” Brownsville Herald, September 19 2013.
- Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “Transvestites Are Victims of Downtown Pranksters,” Brownsville Herald, June 2 2003.
- “Police Looking for Couple Accused of Robbing Elderly Man,” Brownsville Herald, April 8 2006.