Hidalgo 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

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 community for several years, and residents and business owners have complained about commercial sex activity 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.

Key Partners

  • Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office
  • McAllen Police Department
  • Homeland Security Investigations

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings with Shaming:

Web-Based Reverse Sting:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Texas
Type County
Population 860661
Location
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