Cypress is an unincorporated community of almost 182,500 residents within Harris County, Texas, and is located completely inside the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the City of Houston. The Cypress area is located along U.S. Highway 290, and is about twenty-five miles northwest of downtown Houston. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of Harris 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 is sex trafficking. For example, in January 2019, a Cypress woman was arrested and charged with trying to force a teenage runaway into prostitution. The victim, a 15-year-old girl who suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, told Precinct 5 investigators that the defendant tried to force her, against her wishes, to “walk the track,” working as a prostitute. The victim refused and, after another attempt to coerce her into prostitution, the teen was left at a shopping center in the 9800 block of Bissonnet, where she was found by Precinct 5 deputies. The woman was charged with promotion of prostitution, a second degree felony, and was held in the Harris County Jail on $50,000 bail.
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. In 2015-2016, Houston and Harris County law enforcement agencies made 3,478 prostitution-related arrests. About half of those arrests were of male sex buyers. After decades of various approaches, the district attorney’s office concluded that it doesn’t accomplish much to continuously arrest women who are often victims of extreme circumstances or of traffickers, punishing them as criminals, and by 2015 or increased its focus on prosecuting those who are purchasing the sex, as it’s “easier to cut down the demand than to continuously attack the supply.” In 2015-2016, Houston area police arrested nearly 1,500 male sex buyers. In June 2017, the Harris County Pct. 4 Constable’s office responded to citizen concerns about criminal activity with a two-day sting/reverse sting operation that led to 21 arrests. The area of concern was along the FM 1960/Cypress Creek Parkway corridor in the Cypress area.
he Harris County Precinct 4 Constable’s Office made 11 arrests during an undercover prostitution operation in northwest Harris County, on the 1960 corridor, I-45 near Bammel Road, Cypress Station and the Willowbrook Mall area. The alleged sex buyers propositioned undercover male and female officers. Two of the arrests were made close to schools, with one person being picked up in the parking lot of a day care. All of the suspects were charged with a Class B misdemeanor for prostitution. One of the men fled from officers in a stolen vehicle, and faced additional charges of felony evading and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.
In May, 2019 fifteen male suspects ranging from their 20’s to their 50’s were arrested in an undercover prostitution sting conducted in Cypress last week by the Harris County Constable Precinct 4 Office. The reverse sting was conducted mostly near North Harris county schools, businesses and neighborhoods in preparation for the summer months when children are out of school. Undercover female officers arrested the 15 suspects and charged them with prostitution, a class B misdemeanor. The operation was held in the area of FM 1960 from Kuykendhal east to Aldine Westfield. All of the suspects received a bail of $100, and all had their photos and identifiers posted online. One of the suspects was arrested twice during the operation. After the suspect made his $100 bail, he was arrested the next day along with his daughter for interfering in the operation, when he saw an undercover female officer and tried to warn another suspect.
- Harris County Constable
- Precinct 4 Office
Reverse Stings, Shaming:
- https://www.khou.com/article/news/crime/21-arrested-in-prostitution-sting-in-cypress-area (2017)
- https://abc13.com/news/9-arrested-in-undercover-prostitution-sting-in-cypress (2017)
- https://www.click2houston.com/news/prostitution-hot-spots-around-houston (2017)
- https://abc13.com/arrests-made-in-prostitution-sting-in-north-harris-county (2018)
- https://www.chron.com/neighborhood/cyfair/news/article/Harris-County-Constables-bust (2019)
- https://www.khou.com/gallery/news/mugshots-suspects-arrested-in-prostitution-sting-in-cypress-area (2019)
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking: