Longview, TX

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Longview is a city of approximately 82,000 residents, located in Gregg County in eastern Texas. Situated at the intersection of Interstate 20, Route 80, and Route 259, Longview has been a site of widespread prostitution for decades, and child sex trafficking is also well-documented.  To address such issues driven by the consumer-level demand that funds all commercial sex markets, the Longview Police Department routinely conducts street-level reverse stings, often netting upwards of 20 sex buyers in a single night. Operations typically involve the use of several undercover female officers, who serve as decoys along the city’s major roadways and rest stops. When men attempt to solicit sex from the decoys, they are quickly arrested. The LPD frequently releases the names and other identifying information about sex buyers to the media. For example, in 2010, businesses along U.S. 80 spoke out about the prevalence of prostitution in the area. Business owners explained how police stings and other strategies are effective in denting prostitution traffic for a short time, but the sex buyers and prostitutes always return to the sidewalks, parking lots, and motels. Longview Police Assistant Chief Lonnie M. Smith said,  

“As long as there are people willing to buy it and willing to sell it, they’re going to get together somewhere.”  

Longview business owners along U.S. 80 collectively began to take action into their own hands. Local motel owners began refusing to rent rooms by the hour as the area is a known hub for prostitution. One restaurant banded to quell solicitation activity on the corridor. Taking it a step further, a local liquor store began to document records of prostitution arrests and activity he had witnessed. He recorded names of the prostituted women and the sex buyers in addition to recording video footage of their activities. The store owner has successfully been able to track down the sex buyer’s home addresses and has even notified sex buyer’s wives about what he has witnessed, including their husbands’ prior arrests. 

Between March and May of 2010, Longview police had responded to 26 service calls on solicitors and made arrests on each of those calls. Twenty-three of those calls occurred during a two-week period in mid-March, and 19 calls from a local motel located along U.S. 80 and the Loop 281 corridor. Police began to see a pattern in the individuals being arrested-it was typically individuals who had previously been arrested on prior trespassing and/or prostitution-related charges.  

On March 17, 2010, owners of several local businesses banded under a memorandum of understanding. Under the memorandum, if a person is kicked off one business’s property for criminal trespass, then they are excluded from entering any of the other businesses. Getting that initiative to stick might be difficult, at least where the law is concerned. The Texas Penal Code specifies a property owner can legally keep someone off their property only if they have provided oral or written notice to the presumed intruder, or if certain other crimes such as assault, interfering with an emergency call, another felony are committed, or if a police officer witnesses the misdemeanor. If a property owner calls the police about an intruder and the person is on the sidewalk when officers arrive, this would not warrant sufficient evidence to secure an arrest or criminal trespass charge. However, the responding officer can file an incident report.  

In 2008, Longview police arrested 19 men in an undercover prostitution sting where female officers posed as prostituted women. The men were booked in Gregg County Jail on charges of prostitution, a Class A Misdemeanor in the state of Texas. In August of 2010, the Longview Police Department conducted a prostitution sting that resulted in the arrest of 23 sex buyers in Gregg County. The identities, age, and charges of the 23 offenders were released to the general public through local news sources. Nineteen sex buyers were arrested on charges of prostitution, a Class A Misdemeanor, and were subsequently released on a $1,000 bond. Four of the arrested sex buyers were held in Gregg County Jail due to prior prostitution-related arrests.  

In June of 2016, five men were arrested on prostitution charges in Longview during an undercover prostitution sting conducted by Longview police officers and the Gregg County CODE Unit. The operation aimed at fighting sex trafficking in the city. All five men were arrested upon agreeing to purchase commercial sex from undercover officers. The identities, ages, images, and charges were released in a local news article. All five men were arrested on prostitution charges, a Class A Misdemeanor in the state of Texas.  

In 2017 a former school superintendent in East Texas was arrested on prostitution charges after soliciting a police officer posing as a prostituted person. He was one of four suspects arrested in a three-hour undercover operation in Longview, about 100 miles east of Dallas. The arrested sex buyer, who led Kilgore ISD for 14 years, was released the same day from the Gregg County Jail after posting a $2,500 bond. Before becoming superintendent, he was a Kilgore High School principal, assistant principal, assistant middle school principal, counselor and teacher. At the time of the arrest, he also works for the Texas Association of School Boards.  

In April of 2021, the Mayor of Athens, TX was arrested in Gregg County by Longview police on the felony charge of online solicitation of a minor. The Athens Mayor was arrested during a Texas Department of Public Safety prostitution sting. According to the city of Athens website, the mayor’s current term is set until 2023. However, after being released from jail on a $300,000 bond, the former mayor resigned from his position.  

In July of 2012, a sex buyer was pursued and assaulted by a woman in prostitution and her exploiter after the sex buyer failed to bring $2,000, the amount originally agreed upon by the trio in exchange for commercial sex with the prostituted women. The exploiter and the prostituted women drove from Dallas to Longview after arranging the meeting through an online advertisement. After the sex buyer arrived with only $200, the deal was canceled. The exploiter and the prostituted women pursued the sex buyer to the point of the exploiter getting out of the car and assaulted the sex buyer with a tire tool he stole from a garage as he crossed the property. The sex buyer ran until he spotted a police car. The exploiter was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, burglary of a building and promotion of prostitution and was held in the Gregg County Jail on bonds totaling $11,000. The prostituted woman was arrested on prostitution charge and her bond was set at $1,000.  

Key Partners

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings:

Identity Disclosure:

John School:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

Background on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in the Area:

State Texas
Type City
Population 81762
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