Galveston County, TX

Tactics Used

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

Galveston County is in southeast Texas, near the Houston metropolitan area, and has a population of about 340,000 residents.  Public officials, business owners, and local residents have reported ongoing problems with prostitution and sex trafficking in Galveston County, and the cities it contains, for decades.  Recent examples include a case being tried in court as of June 2018 in which a man is accused of paying a ring of underage high school girls thousands of dollars for sexual encounters.  The girls testified about teens receiving between $100 and $1,000 from the defendant after having sex.  Prosecutors planned to call eight teenage girls to the stand against the man, who faces charges of sexual assault of a child and inducing sexual performance by a child.

The county also has documented several cases of prostitution-related homicide, and cases of forced prostitution of minors. Examples of egregious crimes associated with local activity in sexual exploitation include a case in 2008, where a john was tortured and murdered in a city hotel room by two men after refusing to pay a woman he had procured for commercial sex. In 2010, the two men involved were each sentenced to roughly 40 years in prison for murder. In an unrelated case, a serial killer who specifically targeted sex sellers murdered two women in Texas City. According to media reports, two victims’ bodies were discovered in 2001. Soon after, a woman involved in prostitution from Galveston came forward and reported “been beaten, bound and left naked in the same field” where the bodies had been found. In 2004, a Texas City resident pled guilty to the two killings, and was sentenced to at least 70 years in prison.

In an effort to reduce commercial sex transactions and sex trafficking, the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office and municipal police departments have conducted periodic street-level reverse stings since at least 1990, and more recently, web-based reverse stings. The operations are often conducted along major thoroughfares identified by residents and business owners as “hot spots” for prostitution activity. Following their arrest, sex buyers may have their names and other identifying information released to the public.

Web-based reverse stings have been conducted in the county since at least 2015, when “Operation On the Hook” occurred and netted eleven arrests of individuals allegedly seeking sex with children. Some of the text communications between predators and law enforcement involved undercover operatives posing as 13 to 15 year olds.  Eight suspects were charged with online solicitation of a minor, three with prostitution and engaging in organized criminal activity.

Key Partners

  • Galveston County Sheriff’s Office
  • Galveston Police Department

Key Sources

State Texas
Type County
Population 339931
Location
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