Potter County, 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

Potter County is a county of roughly 117,000 residents located in in northwestern Texas, in the Texas panhandle, about two hours north of Lubbock, TX. The county seat is Amarillo, TX. Residents and local law enforcement have reported problems with prostitution and sex trafficking in the county for decades. For example, in the late 1970s, county law enforcement officials increased the number of prostitution-related investigations and arrests due to an increase in commercial sex activity in the county. Targeted violence and homicide of prostituted persons has also been reported in the county. Among the more serious issues associated with the local commercial sex market is child sex trafficking, child endangerment, and child sex abuse material (CSAM).

Efforts to combat prostitution and sex trafficking activity in the area have included those focused on reducing demand for commercial sex activity by targeting sex buyers and sex traffickers. Street-level reverse sting operations have been conducted in the county since at least 1977, if not earlier. The majority of early street-level reverse sting operations were conducted by the Amarillo Police Department with occasional assistance from the Potter County District Attorney’s Office. County law enforcement agencies began conducting street-level reverse stings in response to complaints from residents and businesses about an increase in prostitution and its ancillary crimes such as murders, assaults, drugs, and robberies occurring in the county. Arrested sex buyers have also been subject to having their names and other identifying information publicized in local media outlets.

Web-based reverse stings have also been conducted in the county. For example, in September 2017, seven men were arrested during a joint online internet operation targeting individuals seeking to sexually exploit minors in exchange for money. The Texas Department of Public Safety led the online operation with assistance from the Department of Homeland Security and the West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) Police Department. According to DPS, seven men were arrested and booked into the Randall County Jail on a variety of charges, including Compelling Prostitution Child Younger than 18 years of age, and Online Solicitation of a Minor.

In September 2018, a similar operation occurred, resulting in the arrest of six men for online solicitation of a minor in Amarillo. The Amarillo Police Department had received information over the prior year and half that several local teenage girls were being sex trafficked. The APD Special Victims Unit and Proactive Criminal Enforcement unit (PACE) conducted an undercover operation with Special Victims Unit Detectives posing as 15-16 year old girls on websites known for prostitution and sex trafficking. Suspected exploiters initiated contact with undercover female officers via text message, attempting to solicit them for sex acts. When the suspects arrived at the agreed upon location they were arrested, interviewed, and booked into the Randall County Jail for online solicitation of a minor, a felony offense.

The Potter County Sheriff’s Office has also arrested sex buyers as a result of alternative investigations and residential reports to local law enforcement. For example, in October 2014, a local church leader resigned after being arrested on a charge related to prostitution at an Amarillo motel, according to Potter County Sheriff’s Office records and a church statement. The man had been was arrested by Texas Department of Public Safety troopers at a motel on Paramount Blvd in Amarillo, TX. According to reports, the man had been a pastor for Hillside Christian Church’s Canyon campus since 2009. The man previously worked for Family Support Services as a counselor for foster children who aged out of the system. He was booked into Potter County jail on the misdemeanor charge and was released on a $1,000 bond. The Hillside Christian Church issued a statement saying the man had turned in his resignation, as a result of his arrest. His identity and image were included in reports by local media outlets.

In 2022, the Inmate Records from the Potter County Sheriff’s Office showed that four men had been arrested by deputies for charges related to online solicitation of a minor for sexual conduct. One of the offenders was additionally charged with possession of child sex abuse material (CSAM) and online solicitation of a minor under 14-years-old. Their identities, ages, and hometowns were included in the information provided by the PCSO.

Key Partners

Key Sources

Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Buyer Arrests, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State Texas
Type County
Population 116547
Comments are closed.