Nueces County, TX
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Nueces County is a county of approximately 363,000 residents, located on the southeast coast of Texas. Its county seat and largest city is Corpus Christi, TX. Instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented in incorporated and unincorporated areas of the county. This activity and its ancillary crimes have generated residential reports to local law enforcement. Among the mores serious issues associated with the county’s commercial sex market have included the targeted homicide of prostituted women and child sex trafficking. For example, in 2010, a former San Antonio Spurs basketball player was arrested for child sex trafficking after he and his girlfriend allegedly kidnapped and sex trafficked a 14-year-old girl. The investigation was initiated after a 14-year-old girl waved down a police cruiser in Corpus Christi and told officers she had been abducted in San Antonio and brought to Corpus Christi. She told police she was driven around the city, sexually exploited by various men in exchange for money, and transported to Corpus Christi and forced to dance at a strip club. He was arrested on charges of alleged sexual assault of a 14-year-old child, trafficking an underage child for purposes of sex, and forcing a sexual performance by a child. In 2016, a 28-year-old Houston man was found guilty by a 94th District Court jury for child sex trafficking. According to reports, the Corpus Christi Police Department was alerted by the Houston Police Department in March of 2015 that the 28-year-old man had been sex trafficking a 15-year-old girl through Backpage.com, a website known for prostitution and sex trafficking. Through ads the offender posted of the victim online, investigators were able to track her to a motel on South Padre Island Drive. The sex trafficker was found guilty in 2016 for the continuous human trafficking of a minor and sentenced to 40 years in prison. This was the first time a human trafficking conviction occurred in the county.
Efforts to reduce instances of prostitution and sex trafficking have been employed in the county such as reverse sting operations and “john school” programs. Street-level reverse sting operations have been conducted in the county since at least 1983, if not earlier. The Nueces County Sheriff’s Office often works in coordination with the Corpus Christi Police Department and the Nueces County District Attorney’s Office to conduct the operations. Some operations have resulted in the arrest of over 50 sex buyers. For example, in 1983, officers conducted a two-day street-level reverse sting operation that resulted in the arrest of 53 male sex buyers. According to reports, one arrested male sex buyer had offered an undercover policewoman 40 cents in exchange for sex acts. Operations have also been conducted in response to complaints from residents and businesses in areas where rates of prostitution activity are particularly high. For example, in 1998, in response to an appeal from business owners and residents along Leopard Street, an area known for significant issues regarding prostitution and related offenses, law enforcement implemented new penalties for prostituted people and sex buyers arrested in the area. Police also stated that increased efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex would be implemented in the area. Arrested sex buyers were subjected to 12 months’ probation, 100 hours of community service, fined $100, required to complete a sex offender course, and place a bumper sticker on their cars that stated “Stop Sex Offenders.” In addition, police placed geographic restraining (or SOAP) order restricting individuals who had been arrested for prostitution related crimes from returning to the area. Participating agencies included the Corpus Christi Police Department in coordination with the Nueces County DA’s Office, and the County Community Supervision Department. Police have also been known to release the identities and images of arrested sex buyers as a result of reverse sting operations. For example, a street-level reverse sting operation in May of 2021, resulted in the arrest of 10 male sex buyers, all of who had their images and identities released by local law enforcement.
More recent reverse sting operations have been conducted online, in which undercover officers post decoy ads on websites known for commercial sex. Undercover officers communicate with suspected sex buyers, arranging a time, location, and price prior to meeting in person. Upon arrival to the predetermined location, sex buyers are arrested by undercover officials. The names and images of arrested sex buyers are frequently released by local law enforcement. For example, in September of 2021, the CCPD, the Nueces County DA’s Office, and civilians with the Red Cord Program participated in a web-based reverse sting that resulted in the arrest of six male sex buyers. All six male sex buyers arrested were charged with soliciting prostitution, a state jail felony, in Texas as of September 1st, 2021. Their identities of arrested sex buyers were released in reports by local media outlets. All six men were required to attend a sex buyer education program (john school program), at their own expense, as part of their sentencing. The “john school” program educates male sex buyers about the negative consequences of prostitution, circumstances that may lead someone to purchase sex, and the impact they have on the individual they attempt to solicit sex in exchange for money. Sex buyers are required to pay a fee of $500 to participate in the john school program These fees are used to fund the Red Cord Program, a prostitution diversion program for individuals arrested for prostitution. If they successfully complete the program, their charges are dropped. Arrested sex buyers were required to participate in the program since March 2021. From the program’s inception in 2013 until March 2021, male sex buyers were given the option to participate in the program. Over 70 male sex buyers have attended the course from March 2018 to July 2022 (16 voluntary and 55 mandatory). Only one male sex buyer has been known to refuse to participate. He was one of the seven male sex buyers arrested in a street-level reverse sting in June 2018.
In addition to reverse stings, various other demand reduction tactics have been deployed in the county such as, public education and sex buyer arrests. For example, in 2001, the Crime Patrol and Prevention District approved spending $3,010 to produce public service announcement aimed at local sex buyers. The ads were focused on education potential sex buyers about the dangers of commercial sex and STDs. In addition to reverse sting operations, sex buyers have also been apprehended as a result of alternative investigations or from residential reports to local law enforcement. For example, in 2018, the Nueces County District Attorney’s Office participated in the investigation into the CEO of Backpage.com, a website known for prostitution and sex trafficking. The Nueces County DA’s Office prosecuted the CEO in at 94th District Court in Nueces County. The former CEO accepted a plea deal and pleaded guilty to human trafficking and money laundering charges and was sentenced to five years in prison after completing the terms of his plea deal.
Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- 53 jailed for prostitution (1983)
- City prostitutes are changing tactics (1985)
- Police arrest 5 men in prostitution sting (1989)
- Crackdown on Prostitution planned (1998)
- “Prostitution Sting Nets Cops 16 Arrests”, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, July 8 2000.
- Police arrest 13 men in prostitution investigation (2002)
- “Police May Post Photos of Johns”, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, September 2 2007.
- “Sexual Offenses Will Be Posted”, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, October 16 2007.
- “Civilians Ease Police Loads by Investigating”, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, April 6 2008.
- “Prostitution Sting Yields Nine Arrests”, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, October 5 2010.
- “Seven Men Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, Police Blotter, Corpus Christi Police Department, May 24 2012.
- https://ccpdblotter.com/2012/05/24/seven-men-arrested-in-prostitution-sting/ (2012)
- “Corpus Christi Police Arrest Three Men in Prostitution Sting,” ABC/KIII-TV 3, December 19 2014.
- “Corpus Christi police arrest six johns during prostitution sting operation.” Caller Times, March 30, 2018.
- http://www.kristv.com/story/38488190/ccpd-seven-men-arrested-during-prostitution-sting (June 2018)
- https://www.caller.com/story/news/crime/2018/06/22/corpus-christi-police-nab-7-men-prostitution-sting-north-west-side/ (June 2018)
- https://ccpdblotter.com/2020/09/30/seven-men-arrested-in-anti-prostitution-sting/ (2020)
- https://www.kristv.com/news/local-news/ccpd-ten-men-arrested-in-anti-prostitution-sting (2021)
Sex Buyer Arrests, Identity Disclosure:
- Nueces County prosecutors help take down a global prostitution website (2018)
- https://www.caller.com/story/news/local/2018/04/13/backpage-coms-ceo-carl-ferrer-pleads-guilty-money-laundering (2018)
- https://ccpdblotter.com/2019/02/08/seven-women-one-man-arrested-during-nvid-prostitution-sting-thursday-afternoon/ (2019)
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- “Corpus Christi Police Target Prostitution”, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, January 25 2010.
- “Police Use Computer for Prostitution Sting”, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, April 19 2010.
- Ten men arrested in anti-prostitution sting by Corpus Christi Police (2021)
- Nine men arrested in CCPD anti-prostitution sting (2021)
- CCPD prostitution sting leads to six arrests (2021)
- https://www.caller.com/story/news/2021/09/23/ccpd-prostitution-sting-leads-six-arrests/5829199001/ (2021)
- https://ccpdblotter.com/2021/09/23/nvid-prostitution-sting-nets-six-arrests/ (2021)
- https://ccpdblotter.com/2022/02/16/nvid-prostitution-sting-nets-six-arrests-2/ (2022)
- https://www.caller.com/story/news/crime/2018/03/30/corpus-christi-police-arrest-six-johns-during-prostitution-sting-operation (March 2018)
- http://www.kristv.com/story/ccpd-seven-men-arrested-during-prostitution-sting (June 2018)
- https://www.kristv.com/news/2018/06/22/ccpd-seven-men-arrested-during-prostitution-sting/ (2018)
- https://www.caller.com/story/news/crime/2018/06/22/corpus-christi-police-nab-7-men-prostitution-sting-north-west-side/ (2018)
- https://ccpdblotter.com/2018/06/22/nvid-prostitution-sting-nets-seven-arrests/ (2018)
- https://ccpdblotter.com/2019/03/29/four-men-arrested-during-prostitution-sting/ (2019)
- https://ccpdblotter.com/2021/03/25/nvid-prostitution-sting-nets-ten-arrests-2/ (March 2021)
- https://ccpdblotter.com/2021/06/22/nvid-prostitution-sting-nets-ten-arrest/ (June 2021)
- CCPD prostitution sting leads to six arrests (September 2021)
- https://ccpdblotter.com/2021/09/23/nvid-prostitution-sting-nets-six-arrests/ (September 2021)
- https://ccpdblotter.com/2021/11/17/nvid-prostitution-sting-nets-nine-arrests/ (November 2021)
- https://ccpdblotter.com/2022/02/16/nvid-prostitution-sting-nets-six-arrests-2/ (February 2022)
- https://ccpdblotter.com/2022/04/14/nvid-prostitution-sting-nets-seven-arrests-2/ (April 2022)
- https://ccpdblotter.com/2022/05/04/nvid-prostitution-sting-nets-six-arrests-3/ (May 2022)
- https://ccpdblotter.com/2022/07/26/nvid-prostitution-sting-nets-one-arrest/ (July 2022)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Area Man Held in Pandering,” Victoria Advocate, August 10 1963.
- “Sex-Slaying Suspect Henley May Get Third Trial,” Lakeland Ledger, June 24 1979.
- “Former NBA Star Alvin Robertson on Sex Charges After Kidnapped Girl, 14, Forced into Prostitution and Stripping”, Daily Mail (U.K.), February 28 2010.
- “Alleged Sex-Trade Victim Vanishes”, San Antonio Express-News, March 17 2010.
- “Group Details Horror of South Texas Human Sex Trafficking”, NBC/KRIS-TV 6, June 11 2010.
- “Legislature Calls for Tougher Trafficking Laws”, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, January 30 2011.
- “Jury Convicts San Antonio Man for Sex Trafficking of Minors”, ABC/KSAT-TV 12, July 23 2014.
- “Miles Sentenced to 40 Years for Human Trafficking,” ABC/KIII-TV 3, August 1 2016.
Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “Survivor of Health Spa Murders Clings to Life”, Bonham Daily Favorite, September 10 1981.
- “Police Confirm Murder Victims All Prostitutes”, NBC/KRIS-TV 6, March 31 2010.
- https://ccpdblotter.com/2013/01/08/prostitute-offers-to-sale-stolen-phone-to-clients-wife/ (2013)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Oldest Profession Changes Faces,” Victoria Advocate, August 19 1972.
- “Witnesses Threatened in Motorcycle Gang Probe,” Ellensburg Daily Record, February 13 1979.
- “Elderly Caller Finally Gets a Date– With His Arresting Officer”, Albany Herald, April 8 1982.
- “S. Texas Police Say Bikini-Clad Maids Really a Front for Prostitution Ring”, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, March 24 1994.
- “Police Blotter: 07.03.05”, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, July 3 2005.
- “Prostitution Sting Results in 15 Arrests”, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, September 21 2006.
- “Weed and Seed Gets $200k Grant”, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, July 18 2007.
- “Prostitutes Hear of a Different Life”, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, September 30 2007.
- “CCPD: Thirty Prostitution Arrests in 30 Days”, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, February 18 2010.
- “Police Sting Leads to Seven Arrests”, NBC/KRIS-TV 6, October 20 2010.
- “Police: Seven Arrested During Prostitution Operation”, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, April 1 2011.
- “Corpus Christ Police Arrest Nine Women Thursday After Complaints of Prostitution”, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, August 12 2011.
- “Complaints of Prostitution, Lead to Arrest”, Police Blotter, Corpus Christi Police Department, September 7 2011.
- “Sting Uncovers Prostitution Ring”, Police Blotter, Corpus Christi Police Department, October 14 2011.
- “Corpus Christi Police Arrest 11 Suspected ‘Janes’ in Prostitution Sting”, NBC/KRIS-TV 6, May 31 2012.
- “Corpus Christi Police Sting Nets 10 Women for Prostitution”, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, July 2 2012.
- “10 Arrested During Corpus Christi Prostitution Sting”, NBC/KRIS-TV 6, October 18 2012.
- “Corpus Christi Police Mull Program to Treat Suspected Prostitutes Rather than Jail Them”, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, December 9 2012.
- “Editorial: A Better Solution to Prostitution than Prosecution”, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, December 12 2012.
- https://ccpdblotter.com/2013/07/29/red-cord-prostitution-diversion-program-draft/ (2013)
- https://ccpdblotter.com/2014/04/29/patrol-report-april-29-2014/ (2014)
- https://ccpdblotter.com/2015/05/20/massage-parlor-arrests/ (2015)
- “Community Aids in Four Prostitution Arrests,” ABC/KIII-TV 3, January 29 2016.
- https://ccpdblotter.com/2017/06/02/narcoticsvice-officers-knock-down-another-synthetic-dealer-on-citys-west-side/ (2017)
- https://ccpdblotter.com/2022/03/22/nvid-prostitution-sting-nets-five-arrests/ (2022)
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