Hidalgo County is located in southeastern Texas, across the Rio Grande from Reynosa, Mexico. The county seat is Edinburg and the largest city is McAllen. The county’s population is roughly 870,000. McAllen has a population of approximately 150,000. Local law enforcement have reported problems with prostitution in the the McAllen area for many years, and residents and business owners have complained about commercial sex and its related crimes and disorder in some neighborhoods. Cases of targeted homicide of prostituted women have also been documented.
In an effort to address these issues, the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office and McAllen Police Department have conducted reverse stings since at least 2004. Operations have been conducted at both street level, using female undercover officers as decoys, and using online ads to initiate transactions. In March 2007 and April 2009, for example, MPD officers arrested a total of 11 johns in two separate reversals. In more recent operations– conducted in October 2013, January 2015, October 2015, December 2015, and December 2017 — the department has conducted “dual” stings targeting both sex buyers and sellers. Following their arrests, all individuals charged with prostitution-related offenses may have their names, mugshots, and/or other identifying information publicized by local media outlets. In April 2019, a set of three sting and reverse sting operations resulted in the arrest of 10 males on prostitution charges and three for online solicitation of a minor during a law enforcement internet operation. The operations were a collaboration between McAllen police and Homeland Security Investigations. The identities of the arrested sex buyers were included in news releases.
- Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office
- McAllen Police Department
- Homeland Security Investigations
Street-Level Reverse Stings with Shaming:
- “McAllen Museum Chief Fired; Arrest in Prostitution Sting Leads Board to Oust Him Unanimously,” San Antonio Express-News, October 14 2004.
- “Six Men Arrested in Downtown Prostitution Sting,” McAllen Monitor, March 15 2007.
- “Five Men Nabbed on Prostitution Charges in Downtown McAllen,” McAllen Monitor, April 25 2009.
- “10 People Charged in Downtown McAllen Prostitution Sting,” McAllen Monitor, October 31 2013.
- “11 Arrested in Prostitution Sting,” McAllen Monitor, January 30 2015.
- “Several Charged in McAllen Prostitution Sting; Suspects Arrested in Downtown Area,” ABC/KRGV-TV 5, January 30 2015.
- “Seventeen Arrested in Prostitution Sting,” FOX/KFXV-TV 2, June 26 2015.
- “17 Arrested in South Texas Prostitution Sting,” San Antonio Express-News, June 29 2015.
- “Multiple Prostitution Arrests in McAllen; 16 People Were Arrested,” ABC/KRGV-TV 5, October 3 2015.
- “Photos: Police Arrest 3 Women, 11 Men during McAllen Prostitution Sting,” CBS/KGBT-TV 4, October 4 2015.
- “Photo Gallery: McAllen Police Arrest 12 in Prostitution Sting,” CBS/KGBT-TV 4, December 10 2015.
- “Prostitution sting results in 12 arrests.” The Monitor, December 15, 2017.
- “McAllen investigators arrest 12 during two-day prostitution sting.” December 15, 2017.
Web-Based Reverse Sting:
- https://valleycentral.com/news/local/multiple-men-and-women-arrested-in-mcallen-prostitution-ring (2019)
- https://www.valleycentral.com/news/two-mercedes-men-charged-with-prostitution-online-solicitation-of-a-minor/ (2021)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Officials Close McAllen Park Known for Drugs, Prostitution,” San Antonio Express-News, August 8 1997.
- “Prostitutes Start to Walk Neighborhoods near Downtown McAllen,” McAllen Monitor, December 15 2007.
- “2 Arrested in McAllen Prostitution Sting,” McAllen Monitor, April 8 2009.
- “6 Women Arrested in Downtown McAllen on Prostitution Charges,” McAllen Monitor, March 20 2012.
- “2 Arrested on Prostitution Charges in Downtown McAllen,” McAllen Monitor, March 7 2013.
Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area: