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Ector County is a county located in West Texas with a population of roughly 161,000 residents. Its county seat is Odessa, TX. The has had numerous complaints and reports of prostitution and sex trafficking cases. For example, in 2016, a nationwide effort led by FBI agents and in coordination with local law enforcement agencies across the country to that focuses on recovering underage victims of sex trafficking and prostitution, resulted in the arrest of two male sex buyers and the rescue of a 15-year-old sex trafficking victim. The undercover operation consisted of agents from the Ector County Sheriff’s Office and the Odessa Police Department, who posted decoy ads or responded to potential prostitution ads on Backpage.com, a website known to provide advertisements of commercial sex. The undercover operation focused on ads in which juveniles were being victimized, in hopes of recovering child sex trafficking victims. Additionally, two women were arrested and charge with aggravated promotion of prostitution and child endangerment, respectively.
In effort to reduce the demand for commercial sex in the county, local law enforcement agencies have also been known to conduct street-level reverse stings. For example, in 2004, the Ector County Sheriff’s Office and the Odessa Police Department conducted an undercover operation where 13 male sex buyers were arrested after attempting to exchange money for sex with undercover female officers. The identities, ages, locations, and charges of arrested offenders were released to local news sources. On December 13, 2022, indictments were issued by an Ector County grand jury for six sex buyers, who were charged with “solicit prostitution/other payor,” a state jail felony in Texas since 2021. In March, 20203, sex male sex buyers were indicted by an Ector County grand jury for “solicit prostitution/other payor,” a state jail felony. The identities of the arrested sex buyers were included in public announcements.
Loss of employment is another consequence of buying sex that has occurred within the county. For example, in March of 2017, a Permian High School track coach and health teacher resigned as a consequence of his arrest in Midland on charges of solicitation of prostitution (a class B misdemeanor at the time), and manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance, a first-degree felony. The Ector County Independent School District Public Information Officer said the sex buyer had been with the district since the 1991-92 school year. He had initially been placed on paid administrative leave after being arrested in January of 2017. Ector County ISD officials said the man submitted his resignation and it became effective come March 31st, 2017. He was arrested in an undercover prostitution sting in which he tried trading morphine for sex with an undercover police officer. The offender’s identity, photo, age, location, and charges were released to local news sources.
Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.mrt.com/news/article/Nineteen-in-custody-after-prostitution-sting (2004)
- https://www.oaoa.com/ector-county-indictments-dec (2022)
- https://www.oaoa.com/local-news/ector-county-felony-indictments-april-16 (2023)
Sex Buyer Employment Loss:
Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Area: