Fort Worth, TX

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Web stings
License suspension

Fort Worth is a city in Texas with a population of about 899,597 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 and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented 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 prostituted women 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 had been working as a prostitute for a 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 johns in a single sweep.  Although prostitution charges are categorized as a misdemeanor, arrested johns may be fined up to $1000 for a first offense; after three or more violations, johns may be charged with a felony.

Shaming 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 shaming tactic goes a step beyond simply making the arrested johns’ 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.

Key Partners

  • Fort Worth Police Department

Key Sources

State Texas
Type City
Population 899597
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