Fort Worth, 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

Fort Worth is a city in Texas with a population of about 935,000 residents located about 40 miles west of Dallas. It is the county seat of Tarrant County, covering nearly 350 square miles, and crosses into four other counties: Denton, Johnson, Parker and Wise. Prostitution has been well documented in Fort Worth for more than a century, and substantial sex trafficking activity have also occurred in the city and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of these counties. 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 child sex trafficking, and multiple prostituted women and sex trafficking victims have also been murdered in the city.

In 2013, two Tarrant County men were sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for sex trafficking. One man pleaded guilty to one count of sex trafficking of a minor, and the other pleaded guilty to one count of sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion. Investigators had learned that a 16-year-old girl was being sex trafficked by the suspect while she was working as a stripper at a Fort Worth night club. The offender took all of the proceeds, provided her with necessities such as food and clothing, and provided condoms and hotel rooms for her to use. The second trafficker had exploited a 19-year-old woman in essentially the same way, and the victim testified that she was afraid to leave the offenders who had choked her, pulled her hair, poured drinks on her head and threatened to harm her – while pushing her to work longer hours and acquire more clients. The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, as well as the North Texas Trafficking Task Force, including the Arlington, Dallas and Fort Worth police departments.

The Fort Worth Police Department fights local prostitution and sex trafficking in many ways. 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.  Officers began conducting large-scale street-level reverse stings in the early 1980s. One operation, conducted in April 1986, netted 81 male sex buyers in a single sweep.  Although prostitution charges are categorized as misdemeanors, arrested sex buyers may be fined up to $1000 for a first offense; after three or more violations, they may be charged with a felony.  Those arrested for attempting to pay to sexually abuse children can be charged with seriously felonies, including human trafficking and sexual abuse of a minor.  For example, in March, 2021, a joint undercover human trafficking operation resulted in six arrests in Tarrant County. Undercover detectives from the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office and collaborating agencies conducted a joint human trafficking operation to target child sexual abusers.  Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office detectives utilized personal advertisements, covert social media and communication platforms to communicate with potential suspects seeking to sexual access to a minor under the age of seventeen.  During the operation, after soliciting sex from undercover detectives posing as minors, six suspects traveled to an agreed location to meet them.  They were arrested, jailed, and their identities disclosed to the media.

Identity disclosure is also an important element of Fort Worth police response to combating commercial sex sales.  In 2007, a program called “John TV” was introduced.  This tactic goes a step beyond simply making the arrested sex buyers’ information available to local media. Police post the names and photographs of people arrested for solicitation on both the city’s web site and on its community cable TV. This more extreme step was instituted after many complaints from local area residents and businesses regarding prostitution activity. Other cities in Texas, such as Dallas and Arlington, have also put programs in place similar to “John TV” in order to deter solicitation.

Employment loss is another consequence of buying sex that has occurred in the city.  For example, in August, 2015, a Fort Worth police officer has been fired because of allegations that he “solicited prostitutes,” engaged in sexual conduct while on duty and messaged obscene photographs of himself to others, often identifying himself as a police officer. The officer had been with the Fort Worth Police Department since December 2004.  He was initially indefinitely suspended, and later fired. Investigators reportedly searched the man’s cell phone and obtained information that he had been soliciting prostituted persons and having sex while on duty, which the officer initially denied but later admitted.

Key Partners

  • Fort Worth Police Department
  • Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office
  • Texas Department of Public Safety

Key Sources

Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Identity Disclosure and “John TV”:

Employment Loss, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Prostituted Persons:

State Texas
Type City
Population 935508
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