Cooke County, 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

Cooke County is a county in northern Texas, located just north of the DallasFort Worth metroplex. It has a population of roughly 42,000 residents and the county seat is Gainesville. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Due to the county’s close proximity to Dallas, TX, prostitution and sex trafficking are pervasive issues within Cooke County. Dallas, TX, is one of the destination cities in what is known as the Texas Triangle. The Texas Triangle is located in the heart of Texas, with the metro areas of Houston, DallasFort Worth, and San Antonio acting as the Triangle’s vertices. The three destination cities are connected through Interstate 35, Interstate 45, and Interstate 10. These highways are popular routes for travel as individuals can easily move between the highly populated cities for either business or leisure. The county is positioned along two of the three interstates that create the Texas Triangle: Interstate 35 and Interstate 45. I-35, which runs from the U.S.-Mexico border until northern Minnesota and I-45, which runs from Houston to Dallas, heavily contribute to the significant amount of prostitution and sex trafficking activity documented within the county. In an effort to deter local sex buyers and sex traffickers, several demand reduction tactics have been incorporated by officials in the county. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market are sex trafficking, child endangerment, and violence committed against people involved in these transactions. For example, in 2014, the result of a multiagency operation involving the Cooke County Sheriff’s Department, Cooke County Attorney’s Office, the Denton County Sheriff’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations, the Texas Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District focused on the disruption of a local prostitution ring involving minors, resulted in the arrest of nine individuals and the rescue of two minors, both under the age of three. The operation was conducted at a local Holiday Inn Express along Interstate 35. Officials believe that the county’s position along I-35 is a contributing factor to the increase in sex trafficking cases seen in the past few years,

“With this being right here on 35, this major freeway, kind of an on and off ramp for all types of different offenses, it’s very important that the members of our community understand, it really does happen here.”

Nine individuals were arrested and charged with criminal attempt of prostitution, in addition to various drug-related charges. Two children were rescued and taken into Child Protective Services (CPS).

In their efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex, reverse stings have been conducted by county and local law enforcement. For example, in August of 2016, a joint operation conducted by the Gainesville Police Department in coordination with the Texas Department of Public Safety, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the Dallas and Plano Police departments resulted in the arrest of a local massage business owner on charges of prostitution and practice by massage establishment. Practice by massage establishment is an offense that occurs when the business owner has either neglected to maintain proper records and/or engages in sexual acts. The investigation began in 2014 after numerous reports concerning possible prostitution-related activity were made to the Gainesville Police Department. The massage owner allegedly offered an undercover officer sexual services in addition to the massage, whereupon officers arrested the owner on charges of prostitution and practice of a massage establishment. According to officials, this was the first known instance of an illicit massage business (IMB) operating within the city of Gainesville. At the time of this report, the investigation was ongoing, and officials were investigating additional employees at the business.

The C7 Human Trafficking Coalition (formerly the Denton County Human Trafficking Coalition) is a collaboration of over 40 nonprofits, ministries, social service organizations, healthcare providers, mental health professionals, government agencies, first responders, and community leaders. The C7HTC believes that tackling the demand for commercial sex and sex trafficking is crucial to effectively combat prostitution and sex trafficking. Their mission includes, bringing awareness, education, training, and victim services to the North Texas region. C7HTC members offer direct services to individuals, families, schools, businesses, and communities to help them establish prostitution and sex trafficking prevention strategies, identify, and advocate for victims, and provide recovery services for survivors. In addition to Cooke County, members work throughout Denton, Collin, Grayson, Dallas, Tarrant, and Wise counties.

State Texas
Type County
Population 42224
Comments are closed.