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Lindale is a city in Smith County, TX and has a population of approximately 6,300 residents. It is a part of the Tyler, TX, metropolitan statistical area. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates have resulted in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is sex trafficking. For example, in 2012, a two-month investigation into a local foot massage parlor resulted in the arrest of two employees who were each charged with one count of promotion of prostitution and one count of operating a business without a license. According to officials, one of the employees allegedly gave a massage to an undercover deputy for $60, and then offered sex for $200. The offenders’ identities, locations, and charges were included in reports from local news sources.
In effort to reduce the demand for commercial sex in the city that drives all sex trafficking, officials have deployed demand reduction tactics such as reverse stings. For example, in May of 2021, a two-day online undercover sting targeting people allegedly soliciting prostitutes in Smith County resulted in the arrest of eight men on charges of prostitution. The men were residents of neighboring cities and communities to the city of Lindale. The operation was coordinated by the Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigations Division, the Tyler Police Department, the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, the Smith County Criminal District Attorney’s Office, and the Department of Homeland Security. The offenders’ identities, photos, ages, locations, and charges were included in reports from local news sources.
In October, 2021, another multi-agency operation resulted in at least seven arrests of men accused of soliciting prostitution. The operation was conducted by the Texas Department of Public Safety in tandem with Smith County Sheriff’s Office, Lindale Police Department, Homeland Security and others. It was confirmed to have taken place at a hotel in Lindale. The identities of the arrested sex buyers were publicly disclosed. All seven were charged with solicitation of prostitution, and two of the men were also charged with unlawful carrying of a weapon. In February, 2022 two of the men were indicted by a grand jury, each on a charged of solicitation of prostitution.
Not all sex buyers are arrested during decoy operations; some occur during the course of investigating allegations against specific individuals or businesses. For example, in November of 2020, a Smith County constable was charged with prostitution and “official oppression” for offering to provide a woman with supervised visitation services in exchange for “sexual favors.” The offender was arrested after grand jury indictments and was released the same day on a $2,000 bond. His identity, photo, age, location, and charges were included in press releases.
Public disclosure of identities and loss of employment are consequence of buying sex that have occurred within the city. For example, in January of 2016, a Lindale pastor resigned after being arrested for prostitution. He was arrested and booked at the Smith County Jail and was later released on $500 bond. The Tyler Police Department spokesperson said the sex buyer had been communicating with a woman on social media and agreed to meet her at a hotel in Tyler. Police were tipped off about the meeting by an anonymous source and sent an undercover officer to meet with the pastor. The offender revealed sufficient evidence to the officer to be arrested for soliciting prostitution. The sex buyer was a senior adult pastor with the First Baptist Church of Lindale. According to the church’s website, the man had been affiliated with the church since 1990 and had served as the music pastor for 20 years. The sex buyer’s identity, photo, age, location, and charge were included in reports from local news sources.
Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- 8 arrested in Smith County undercover online prostitution sting (2021)
- prostitution-sting-nets-7-arrests-smith-county/ (2021)
- https://www.ketk.com/7-men-arrested-in-smith-county-prostitution-sting/ (2021)
- https://www.kltv.com/grand-jury-indicts-2-east-texas-men-arrested-during-prostitution-sting/ (2022)
Sex Buyer Arrest, Loss of Employment, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.kagstv.com/area-minister-charged-with-prostitution-in-undercover-sting (2016)
- Lindale pastor resigns after prostitution charge (2016)
- Local Lindale Pastor Arrested for Prostitution (2016)
Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Area: