|IT Based Tactics
Georgetown is a Central Texas community located midway between Killeen and Austin. As of 2020 it had approximately 75,000 residents. The city serves as the government seat for Williamson County. Prostitution and child sex trafficking are known to be well-established problems in Georgetown. For example, in May 2018, the Texas Attorney General announced that his office collaborated with Central Texas and federal law enforcement on a 7-month investigation that ended in the arrests of 13 people accused of prostitution and human trafficking. Eleven massage parlors and spas were shut down after police say illegal activity was suspected: alleged human trafficking, prostitution, and illegal massage. The investigation began in August 2016, when Georgetown Police Department and the Attorney General’s Office received a complaint about one spa in Georgetown. Around that time, various operations were conducted leading to two arrests related to performing a massage without a license and operating a massage parlor without a license. Authorities continued to receive complaints, and further investigation made it clear several massage parlors and spas across the state were linked, and part of prostitution and organized criminal activity reached Bryan, Round Rock, Houston, Killeen, Harker Heights, Temple and Georgetown. Agencies in each area and federal authorities worked together at that point to connect the evidence, which led to 13 arrests where money, assets and evidence were seized. In July, 2022, two teenage girls, both 14, were reunited with their families after human trafficking investigators found them in Georgetown, an hour away from their home in MacGregor, Texas. Police arrested a man for harboring a minor, but more arrests were expected. Authorities found them after an Amber Alert was launched for them, after they had received a screenshot from a Snapchat story with the message “Help.”
Among the tactics used to address such issues are those targeting demand for commercial sex, including the men who intend to sexually abuse minors. For example, in October 2015, local and state law enforcement agencies arrested 41 people during a four-day prostitution operation in Austin, that drew men from broader region including Georgetown. Of the arrests made in that operation, 28 men were charged with Class B misdemeanor prostitution — punishable by up to 180 days in jail — for agreeing to purchase sex. Among the 28 men arrested was a member of the board of directors for The Refuge Ranch, a Christian-based organization to help teenage victims of human trafficking.
In January 2018, two men were arrested and charged in separate events, in which they were trying to meet a 14-year-old girl for paid sexual abuse in Georgetown. One of the men was accused of soliciting a person who he believed was a 14-year-old girl over a messaging app; he allegedly engaged in sexually explicit conversation with an undercover officer and send nude photos of his genitals. He was arrested when he arrived at a park in Georgetown to meet the fictitious 14-year-old. Police say he admitted to speaking to the girl in a sexually explicit manor and planned to meet with her and pay for sexual abuse. He was charged with online solicitation of a minor and booked into the Williamson County Jail.
In another incident in January 2018, a man was accused of arranging to meet a 14- and 15-year-old girl to pay to sexually abuse them. According to an affidavit, he allegedly contacted who he thought was a 14-year-old girl on a chat app called Whisper. It was there he asked an undercover officer posing as an underage girl if she would be interested in “making money.” The undercover officer responded that she and a 15-year-old friend (also fictitious) were interested in money. The suspect allegedly offered to pay to sexually abuse the minors. Police said the suspect offered to pick up the girls and, when he arrived at a predetermined location, he was arrested by Georgetown police and charged with prostitution and online solicitation of a minor. He was booked into the WilCo jail.
Crimes and Sentencing/Fines: Texas State Law
- Prostitution: Class B Misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
- Solicitation Prostitution: Class B Misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
- Solicitating Prostitution of Minor: Second Degree Felony and is punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison, fine of up to $10,000.
- Tex. Pen. Code § 43.02
Local Prostitution Ordinance:
- Georgetown Police Department
- Williamson County Jail
- Round Rock Police Department
- Cedar Park Police Department
- Houston Police’s Vice Unit and Human Trafficking Task Force
- Killeen Police Department
- Harker Heights Police Department
- Temple Police Department
- Bryan Police Department
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Web-Based Reverse Sting, Identity Disclosure:
- http://cbsaustin.com/two-men-accused-of-soliciting-sex-with-14-year-old-girls-in-georgetown (2018)
- https://www.chron.com/Prostitution-Texas-sting-multi-agency (2018)
Background on Sex Trafficking and Prostitution in the Area:
- https://www.mysanantonio.com/More-than-40-arrested-in-Central-Texas (2015)
- https://www.mysanantonio.com/Prostitution-busts-around-Central-Texas (2016)
- http://www.ktre.com/law-enforcement-arrests-13-people-in-months-long-prostitution-human-trafficking-investigation (2018)
- https://www.fox7austin.com/human-trafficking-prostitution-suspected-several-central-texas-massage-parlors (2018)
- https://www.kcentv.com/13-people-arrested-in-massage-parlor-busts-in-central-texas/ (2018)
- http://www.newsradioklbj.com/update-three-georgetown-residents-arrested-promoting-prostitution (2018)
- https://www.parentherald.com/human-trafficking-cops-find-2-missing-teenagers-raising-amber-alert (2022)