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Killeen is a central Texas city of approximately 145,690 residents within Bell County, TX and lies about halfway between Austin and Waco. The economy of Killeen depends largely on Fort Hood, a military base that employs the majority of city’s residents that is located within three miles of the city. Prostitution and sex trafficking of adults and minors are well-documented in the city and have become growing concerns in recent years, especially in areas surrounding the military base of Fort Hood, generating complaints to police by residents. Among the more serious issues associated with the city’s commercial sex market is child sex trafficking. For example, in 2020, the Killeen Police Department conducted an undercover child sex trafficking operation that resulted in the arrest of nine male sex buyers, three of which were soldiers. According to officials, the nine offenders had responded to decoy advertisements on social media platforms, in which undercover officers posed as 15 and 16 year-old girls offering sex acts, and agreed to meet officers at a predetermined location. During the operation, the Killeen Special Victim’s Unit partnered with the Texas Department of Public Safety Human Trafficking Program to identify and arrest individuals willing to make overt efforts to pay minors to engage in sexual acts. Seven men, including two Fort Hood soldiers, were arrested on felony child prostitution charges, and two men, including one Fort Sam Houston soldier, were charged with misdemeanor prostitution upon arriving at the agreed upon location. The identities of the men were released by police to local media outlets.
To reduce the demand for commercial sex and deter potential sex buyers, the Killeen Police Department has conducted both street-level and web-based reverse stings using an undercover female officer as a decoy. Upon arrest, sex buyers may have their names and identifying information released to the media. For example, in 2002 the KPD’s Organized Crime Division conducted a street-level reverse sting using female decoy officers that resulted in the arrest of nine male sex buyers on the charge of soliciting prostitution. Killeen police have also been known to conduct web-based reverse sting operations. For example, in 2017, a web-based operation targeting individuals seeking to engage in commercial sex resulted in the arrest of 20 men, including 13 Fort Hood soldiers. According to reports, the soldiers had responded to decoy ads online and met undercover officers believing they were prostituted women, and upon their arrival, the men were arrested for soliciting prostitution. Soldiers arrested for soliciting prostitution can also potentially face dishonorable discharge and/or additional disciplinary action. By 2020, instances of prostitution and sexual harassment in Killeen, especially in Fort Hood, were pervasive enough to warrant the convention of an independent review committee to analyze and discuss the severity of situation. To read the committee’s full report, click HERE. In September of 2021, investigators with the Bell County Sheriff’s Office, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and military police at Fort Hood arrested ten men, including three Fort Hood soldiers, during a sex trafficking and prostitution sting on September 14th and September 16th in the Temple and Killeen areas. According to authorities,
“The purpose of the operation is to crack down on sex trafficking and to identify and arrest individuals seeking sexual acts in exchange for money in Bell County. If there is no demand, there is no need for the service.”
During the operation, authorities placed advertisements in websites that attract people interested in paying for sex. According to officials, investigators targeted sex buyers responding to advertisements to combat the demand for commercial sex in the city.
The arrests were made with the help of undercover female deputies who participated in the so-called John Suppression Initiative Operation. On September 1st, 2021, Texas became the first state to make a first-time solicitation of prostitution offense a felony through the passage of H.B. 2975. Anyone offering or agreeing to engage in sexual conduct in exchange for a fee will no longer be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. Now, they will be charged with a state jail felony. In May, 2022, five male sex buyers were arrested, and their identities were publicly disclosed.
In addition to reverse sting operations, various other demand reduction tactics have been implemented in the city. For example, the Killeen Police Department implemented SOAP (Stay Out of Areas of Prostitution) Orders in 2004, supplemented by an increased police presence in downtown areas known for high rates of prostitution activity. This was implemented as a result of numerous citizen complaints during a Killeen Police Department Community Forum held in July of 2004. Killeen Police have also released educational resources and press releases warning citizens to be cautious and teaching individuals how to identify signs of prostitution and/or sex trafficking when using online dating platforms, buying/selling merchandise through online marketplaces, or communicating with strangers online.
Loss of employment is also a consequence of sex buying in the city. For example, in 2015, a former Fort Hood Sgt. 1st Class and victim advocate in Fort Hood’s sexual assault prevention program pleaded guilty to numerous charges stemming from a conspiracy to run a prostitution ring using young female soldiers at the Fort Hood base, resulting in 24 months of confinement and being dishonorably discharged. In 2017, a reverse prostitution sting led by the Bell County Sheriff’s Department in collaboration with the Harker Heights Police Department and the Travis County Sheriff’s Office resulted in the arrest of 10 male sex buyers at a Harker Heights hotel on November 8th, 2017. Two Killeen ISD teachers were among the 10 arrested, and resigned as a result of their arrest. All 10 sex byers were charged with prostitution and have since posted bond. The photos, identities, ages, charges, and location of arrest were released by local news sources. In 2019, an online operation targeting sex buyers conducted by the KPD, resulted in the arrest of 10 men, including two Fort Hood soldiers and one member of the Killeen Chamber of Commerce. The Killeen Chamber of Commerce terminated the sex buyer’s employment upon discovering his arrest.
The Bell County District Attorney’s Office allows first time offenders who are arrested for sex buying in Bell County to have the option to participate in a john school in lieu of sentencing or fines. Stop Demand School is a sex buyers intervention and diversion program originally created by Jesus Said Love, but was adopted by the Heart of Texas Human Trafficking Coalition in 2015, and ran its first session in 2016. Today, SDS is offered on a monthly basis in McLennan, Bell, Dallas, and El Paso Counties. Stop Demand School is an eight hour program available either online or in person for $525.00. The live course is held once a month for 8 hours and no final exam is required, whereas the online course must be completed within three days of registration and a final exam is required. Participants must achieve a score of 70% in order to successfully pass, if they do not, they may pay a fee of $50.00 to retake the exam. Counties can choose to either use the program as a part of sentencing or diversion (where charges are dismissed upon successful completion). For additional information on SDS, click HERE
Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.tdtnews.com/archive/article_ff0b3319-e5d0-5ecf-991b-3549aa85a63b.html (2002)
- “Killeen Police Get Tough on Downtown Lawbreakers”, CBS/KWTX-TV 10, August 6 2004.
- “Early Morning Prostitution Sting Nets Four Arrests”, CBS/KWTX-TV 10, July 16 2008.
- https://www.kcentv.com/15-arrested-9-rescued-in-bell-county-sex-trafficking-sting (2019)
- https://www.kxxv.com/15-people-arrested-in-connection-to-bell-county-sting (2019)
- https://www.kxxv.com/killeen-police-arrest-nineteen-during-prostitution-sting#id2 (2019)
- https://kdhnews.com/news/crime/five charged soliciting prostitution (2022)
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.fox23.com/9-suspects-including-3-military-members-arrested-texas-child-prostitution-sting (2020)
- https://www.stripes.com/three-texas-soldiers-arrested-in-child-prostitution-sting-near-fort-hood (2020)
- https://www.tdtnews.com/news/central_texas_news/article (2021)
- https://www.kltv.com/three-fort-hood-soldiers-among-those-arrested-during-prostitution-sting/ (2021)
- https://www.fox44news.com/fort-hood-soldiers-ex-belton-police-officer-among-many-arrested-in-prostitution-sting/ (2021)
- https://www.kwtx.com/three-fort-hood-soldiers-among-those-arrested-during-prostitution-sting/ (2021)
- https://killeenpdnews.com/killeen-police-warn-the-public-about-meeting-strangers-for-online-sales-and-dating/ (2017)
Loss of Employment:
- https://www.armytimes.com/sfc-sentenced-for-organizing-fort-hood-prostitution-ring/ (2015)
- https://www.expressnews.com/Fort-Hood-sergeant-admits-he-pimped-soldiers (2015)
- https://www.military.com/more-than-dozen-fort-hood-soldiers-arrested-prostitution-sting (2017)
- https://www.armytimes.com/soldier-convicted-of-running-prostitution-ring-was-allowed-to-be-a-foster-parent/ (2017)
- https://www.houstonchronicle.com/Killeen-ISD-teachers-arrested-prostitution-bust (2017)
- https://www.chron.com/Killeen-ISD-teachers-arrested-prostitution-bust (2017)
- https://www.kwtx.com/Central-Texas-football-coach-and-teacher-arrested-in-online-child-sex-sting (2017)
- https://www.kwtx.com/content/news/Local-prostitution-sting-snares-more-than-a-dozen (2019)
- https://www.kagstv.com/2-fort-hood-soldiers-killeen-chamber-employee-among-10-nabbed-in-prostitution-sting (2019)
- 8-Hour Educational Training Available for Arrested Sex Buyers in Bell County (2019)
- SDS is Offered on a Monthly Basis in McLennan, Bell, Dallas, and El Paso Counties (2020)
- Stop Demand School
- Heart of Texas Human Trafficking Coalition
- Jesus Said Love
Background on Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Korean Women Forced into Prostitution”, St. Joseph News-Press, February 18 1985.
- “Three People Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, ABC/KXXV-TV 25, January 6 2010.
- “Trial Begins in Central Texas Forced Prostitution Case”, CBS/KWTX-TV 10, August 29 2010.
- “California Man Gets 2.5 Years in Prison in Forced Prostitution Case”, ABC/KXXV-TV 25, November 22 2010.
- “El Paso County Juvenile Probation Officer Charged in Connection with Sex Trafficking Gang”, El Paso Times, January 22 2014.
- “Probation Officer, 7 Others Arrested for Texas Prostitution Ring”, United Press International, January 22 2014.
- “Man, Woman Charged after Local Girl, 15, Forced into Prostitution,” CBS/KWTX-TV 10, June 22 2015.
- “Fugitive Wanted for Trafficking Minors Arrested Here,” CBS/KWTX-TV 10, February 27 2016.
- https://www.nbcdfw.com/9-men-including-3-soldiers-charged-in-child-sex-ring-case (2020)
- https://apnews.com/article/san-antonio-child-prostitution-texas-killeen (2020)
- https://killeenpdnews.com/2020/08/10/3737/ (2020)
- https://www.latintimes.com/texas-pimp-trafficked-14-year-old-prostitution-abandons-underage-victim-hotel (2021)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Little Texas Town Isn’t Tiny Anymore”, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, September 12 1976.
- “Bills Propose Increased Penalty for Prostitution”, Bonham Daily Favorite, April 5 1977.
- “Authorities Use Many Methods to Control Prostitution”, Junction City Daily Union, July 3 1980.
- “Towns”, Junction City Daily Union, July 3 1980.
- “Drug and Prostitution Sting Nets Dozens of Arrests”, CBS/KWTX-TV 10, October 19 2007.
- “Craigslist Policy Changes Business for Local Prostitutes”, Killeen Daily Herald, May 17 2009.
- “Jail for Man Who Impersonated Killeen Officer”, San Angelo Standard-Times, January 21 2011.
- “Untitled”, Press Release, Killeen Police Department, July 2 2011.
- “Local Soldiers Admit to Using Online Prostitution Service”, NBC/KCEN-TV 9, April 27 2012.
- “Fort Hood Soldier Accused of Paying for Sex in Prostitution Scheme”, FOX News, June 12 2013.
- “Military Prostitution Ring Run by Sexual Assault Prevention Officer”, CARE2, December 10 2013.
- https://kdhnews.com/sex-and-solicitation-local-woman-funds-drug-addiction-through-prostitution (2015)
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