Cleburne, 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

Cleburne is a city in (and the county seat of) Johnson County, Texas, and has a population of about 32,000 residents. Prostitution activity has been well-documented within the county, and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is sex trafficking.

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. For example, a large-scale investigation into the sex trafficking of minors occurred in Cleburne and other communities in  Johnson County in 2015. Investigators posted online advertisements for sex that implied the person being offered was young, and when potential buyers made contact with investigators, they were told that the person with whom they  intended to engage in paid sexual abuse was either 14 or 15 years old.  Once the suspects agreed to terms, they arranged to meet to complete the transactions.  Records showed that 16 men traveled from as far as Garland and Plano to Johnson County hoping to sexually abuse a minor they met online. When they arrived and displayed behavior that they intended to follow through  on purchasing access to the child, they were arrested.  At the time the investigation reached its conclusion and arrests were made, investigators believed the child sex sting operation that landed 16 people in jail was the largest in Texas up to that time. One of the men arrested was already a registered sex offender at the time he was arrested in the sting. Another man, thinking he was texting a 14 year old, asked for gas money so he could get back to Fort Worth after they met. A third man was packing a gun when he went to have sex with a child. After the arrest police did additional research on the suspects, and found that one had more than 100 ads posted in cities all over the United States – considering he was caught trying to buy sex with minors based on one ad he responded to, it is likely that that this predator had many other victims.  The men received a wide range of sanctions and sentences, reflective of the circumstances at the time of arrest, and on the men’s criminal history and concurrent offenses (such as possessing firearms or drugs or violating sex offender registry terms. Some men served time in state prison, or were sentenced to probation for up to 10 years and required to register as a sex offender for 20 years.

Key Partners

  • Cleburne Police Department
  • Burleson Police Department
  • Johnson County Sheriff’s Department
  • Stop The Offender Program (STOP) Special Crimes Unit
  • Johnson County’s Child Advocacy Center
State Texas
Type City
Population 31999
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