El Paso County is a county of approximately 800,000 residents, located in the westernmost part of Texas. While the city of El Paso comprises roughly two-thirds of the county’s population, the county also contains Horizon City and over a dozen unincorporated areas. It is served by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. Prostitution is a well-documented problem in the county, and among the related problems have been a serial killer who targeted prostituted women locally, and other prostitution-related homicides.
While the vast majority of intra-county anti-prostitution investigations have targeted prostituted women advertising their services online, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office has also supplemented city police efforts in El Paso and Horizon City by conducting their own periodic street-level reverse stings. Stings (often categorized as “Operation John[s]”) are typically led by the EPCSO’s Strike Team, who employ undercover female officers as decoys. Operations may span two to four days, and result in anywhere from 10 to 20 arrests. Once completed, a summary of the sting operation may be posted to the EPCSO’s official blog with the corresponding names and photos of those arrested.
El Paso Police Department and El Paso County Sheriff’s Office frequently deploy street-level and web-based reverse stings, performing these operations weekly in 2011-2013. They have been conducting street-level operations since 1985, and web-based operations since 2004. They have also implemented public awareness campaigns, neighborhood watch programs, and use shaming tactics to further target demand. Web-based reverse continue through the present. For example, in January, 2021 five men were arrested in a web-based sting targeting those seeking to purchase minors for sexual abuse.
- El Paso County Sheriff’s Office
- El Paso Police Department
- El Paso County Jail
- Horizon City Police Department
Street-Level Reverse Stings with Shaming:
- “19 Men Arrested in Undercover Prostitution Sting”, NBC/KTSM-TV 9, August 10 2009.
- “10 Arrested on Prostitution Charges During ‘Operation John'”, Press Release, El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, September 13 2010.
- “Prostitution Sting Operation Results in 15 Arrests by Strike Team”, Press Release, El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, August 30 2011.
Web-Based Reverse Stings:
- “Internet Sex Sting Nets 30 Arrests”, El Paso Times, April 8 2000.
- https://www.elpasotimes.com/el-paso-arrests-tied-fbi-prostitution-operation (2016)
- https://kfoxtv.com/police-arrest-five-in-undercover-prostitution-sting (2019)
- https://kvia.com/5-el-pasoans-charged-with-soliciting-sex-from-children-online/ (2021)
- El Paso Police Department Website: Prostitution Arrest Photos
- “Prostitution Suspects Shown on Website”, El Paso Times, November 23 2005.
- “Police Department Website Undergoes Change”, ABC/KVIA-TV 7, December 6 2007.
- “Sheriff Candidates, Wiles and Leon, at Pearson Forum”, Newspaper Tree, March 23 2008.
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Sting Nabs 5 Alleged Prostitutes, Drug Dealer”, Las Cruces Sun-News, February 15 2010.
- “Four People Arrested on Prostitution Charges”, NBC/KTSM-TV 9, May 17 2010.
- “Sheriffs Arrest Nine Women in Online Prostitution Sting”, FOX/KFOX-TV 14, March 26 2012.
- “El Paso County Sexually Oriented Businesses Face New Requirements”, El Paso Times, December 10 2012.
- “El Paso Police Fight Online Prostitution; County Studies Need for Prevention Program as Commercial Sex Industry Moves from Streets to Cyberspace”, El Paso Times, October 21 2013.
- “El Paso County Program Focuses on Preventing Prostitution,” FOX/KFOX-TV 14, January 3 2015.
Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “El Paso Police Seek Help after Identifying 5th Body”, El Paso Times, November 5 1987.
- “Suspect in 5 Deaths Convicted of Assault”, Houston Chronicle, March 18 1988.
- “Police Identify Woman’s Bones Found in Desert Outside of El Paso”, El Paso Times, March 20 1988.
- “El Paso County Jury Indicts Jailed Rapist in Slayings”, Houston Chronicle, July 14 1990.
- “Jailed Rapist Indicted in 6 El Paso-Area Serial Slayings”, Dallas Morning News, July 14 1990.
- “Grief and Determination; Mother of Victim in El Paso Slayings Waits for Justice”, Dallas Morning News, September 6 1992.
- “Trial Begins for Man Accused of Serial Killings in El Paso”, Austin American-Statesman, September 8 1992.
- “Rapist Goes on Trial in Murder Case; The Victims’ Bodies Were Recovered from Desert Graves in 1987 and 1988 in Northeast El Paso”, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, October 22 1992.
- “Desert Deaths; Jury Finds Man Guilty in Desert Slayings”, San Antonio Express-News, November 11 1992.
- “El Paso Man Convicted of Killing 6 Women, Girls”, Dallas Morning News, November 11 1992.
- “David L. Wood’s Path from El Paso to Death Row”, El Paso Times, August 9 2009.
- “David Leonard Wood to Be Executed Aug. 20”, El Paso Times, August 9 2009.
- “Answers Still Sought: Slaying Case Keys on Man in Cowboy Hat”, El Paso Times, November 1 2010.