Harlingen is a city of approximately 69,000 residents, located near Brownsville in the Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas, in Cameron County. To reduce prostitution activity in the city, the Harlingen Police Department has conducted periodic street-level reverse stings since at least 1996. As a warning to other would-be sex buyers, the HPD often releases johns’ names and other identifying information to the media. In May and October 2014, police conducted reversals resulting in the arrest of 11 sex buyers, whose names, ages, and photos were posted online.
In January 2012, local law enforcement reported a case involving the forced prostitution of a minor in Harlingen. The victim, a 15-year-old female, was picked up by a man at a city park and taken to a nearby hotel where she was beaten, drugged and sold to another individual for sexual intercourse. The man responsible for pimping the girl was charged with compelling prostitution and four drug-related charges; he was incarcerated and held on $639,000 bail. The “john” accused of purchasing sexual services from the girl was similarly arrested, although the details of his arrest were not made public.
- Reverse Stings and Shaming:
- “Eight Men Arrested”, Brownsville Herald, May 7 1996.
- “Twenty Busted By Sting”, Brownsville Herald, February 8 1998.
- “Nine Arrested on Solicitation Charges”, Brownsville Herald, December 4 2001.
- “Harlingen PD Accuses 6 Men of Trying to Pick Up Prostitute”, Harlingen Valley Morning Star, July 18 2008.
- “Several Men Arrested in Harlingen Prostitution Sting”, CBS/KGBT-TV 4, July 19 2008.
- “Police Blotter for July 3”, Harlingen Valley Morning Star, July 3 2012.
- “Six Arrested in Harlingen Prostitution Sting”, Harlingen Valley Morning Star, March 25 2013.
- “Harlingen Man Caught in Undercover Prostitution Sting”, CBS/KGBT-TV 4, November 8 2013.
- “Police Blotter for May 20”, Harlingen Valley Morning Star, May 19 2014.
- “Undercover Prostitution Sting Ends with Seven Arrests”, CBS/KGBT-TV 4, May 20 2014.
- “Four Men Arrested after Prostitution Sting in Harlingen”, CBS/KGBT-TV 4, October 10 2014.
- Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- Background on Prostitution in the Area: