Montgomery 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

Montgomery County is located north of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and has population of approximately 570,000 residents.  Its county seat and largest city is Conroe. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the communities and unincorporated areas of the county.  This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is child sex trafficking. For example, in February, 2018 a woman from Houston was arrested sentenced to 40 years in prison for charges associated with her offering to sell her 2-year-old daughter for sex at a cost of $1,200. The woman had pleading guilty to charges that included promotion of prostitution, sexual performance by a child, and trafficking of persons younger than 18. Undercover officers in Montgomery County, had encountered the woman on a social media site, and she had forwarded photos of young girls and asked if there was anyone who wanted “to have fun” with her daughter. Detectives watched the woman board a bus in Houston with her daughter to travel to Conroe, where she thought she was meeting a man who would pay for sex with the toddler. In September 2018, police investigators arrested a man alleged to have forced two teenage girls into prostitution, and charged him with one count of compelling prostitution. Investigators with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office said they launched an investigation several months previously, after they were told by witnesses that the man was forcing juvenile girls into prostitution.

In response to such problems in Montgomery County and throughout Texas, in January 2015 the state legislature established the Child Sex Trafficking Team within the state’s Criminal Justice Division, which facilitates collaborative efforts to prevent child sex trafficking, recover victims and collect and analyze research. Also in 2015, the Montgomery County Coalition Against Human Trafficking, a group of local nonprofits and agencies, was founded as a way to collaborate in anti-human trafficking efforts. Since then, the MCCAHT has partnered with entities in Harris County as well as state and federal agencies.  The Montgomery County DA’s office prosecuted 70 charges of human trafficking in 2017 and 47 in 2018.  Statistics are not available for previous years, as the county began tracking cases in 2017.  In mid-September 2018, the county was investigating 48 international sex-trafficking operations—24 of which were located in the Conroe and Montgomery area. In early 2017, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) created a human trafficking divison within the organized crime unit to focus specifically on anti-human trafficking efforts. Shortly after, the sheriff’s office joined the Southern District of Texas’ Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance in October 2017, allowing the county to receive specialized training, resources and grants to fund local anti-human trafficking efforts.

Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response.  To identify and apprehend local sex buyers driving the prostitution and sex trafficking markets, the Conroe Police Department and the MCSO have conducted reverse stings.  he Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office led a collaborative effort to conduct a comprehensive prostitution and human trafficking sting. Detectives and agents from multiple agencies along with Non- Government Organizations (NGOs) worked in an undercover capacity posing as both “Johns” and “Prostitutes.” The latter was designed to identify those seeking to purchase sex from adults or juveniles, and various reports said that between 38 and 75 sex buyers were arrested (in addition to the arrest of  11 pimps and 28 prostituted women. Suspects faced a variety of charges, including prostitution, aggravated promotion of prostitution, possession of a controlled substance, weapons and narcotics. “Operation Cross County” was designed to proactively address prostitution and human trafficking activity in the communities and surrounding areas of the county.  In addition to apprehending sex buyers, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office sought to find victims who may have been forced into providing illegal services through force, fraud or coercion, or minors engaged in prostitution (and thus, sex trafficking victims). Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office was able to identify at least five victims who requested support services and one 16 year old juvenile was recovered as a runaway. A statement from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office included:

“We will continue to send a message, through enforcement actions, that we are not going to tolerate this activity in our community in the hopes that we will deter demand, control supply, rescue those who have been forced into trafficking and prosecute those who continue to thwart our legal system.”

 

 

 

Key Partners

  • Houston Police Department
  • Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office
  • Montgomery County Pct. 3 Constable
  • Harris County Sheriff’s Office
  • FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Conroe Police Department, Texas
  • Texas Department of Public Safety
  • Texas Attorney General
  • DeliverFund
State Texas
Type County
Population 570934
Location
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