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San Angelo is a city of approximately 100,030 residents, located in Tom Green County in west-central Texas, along the Concho River. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been documented in the city for decades, dating back to brothels operating in the late 1800s. This activity leads to complaints from the community, which spurs police responses. For example, in 2017, the San Angelo Police Department received numerous citizen complaints across several months regarding prostitution occurring inside two local massage parlors. An investigation confirmed the allegations, and two arrests were made for prostitution offenses. A recent sex trafficking case led to the arrest and conviction of a man for assaulting and threatening his former girlfriend, locking her in a room and forcing her into commercial sex in early December of 2019.
Responses to the wide range of problems associated with commercial sex have included using tactics that have focused on combating demand. For example, in June 2014, local media outlets reported that officers with the Texas Department of Public Safety had begun targeting pimps and sex buyers for arrest in the city. They added that, between 2013 and 2014, DPS officers had arrested six sex male buyers and five pimps during stings and investigations in San Angelo. Additional details about the operations (including the identities of the men arrested) were not released.
In January 2018 another reverse sting was conducted, resulting in three men — including a professor at Angelo State University — arrested and charged with soliciting prostitution. The names, ages, and city of residence were publicly disclosed for the three men, who were booked into the Tom Green County Jail on suspicion of Class B misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution, which is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine up to $2,000. The next day all three men had been released, with two posting $500 bail and one (who was also charged with evading arrest) released on a $1,000 bond. The arrests were a result of a joint undercover investigation by the Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigations Division and Tom Green County Sheriff’s Office. DPS special agents led the investigation effort to identify and apprehend sexual predators participating in the solicitation of prostitution, according to a DPS news release. In June, 2018 one of the arrested men pleaded “no contest” to charges he solicited prostitution after answering a personal ad on Backpage. He was sentenced to one year deferred adjudication probation, to avoid conviction if he successfully completed the term of probation. As a condition of his probation, the man was ordered to pay a $500 fee and $242 in court costs, complete 24 hours of community service, submit to twice-weekly urinalysis/breathalyzer screenings, and avoid places where alcoholic beverages are served or sold.
In October, 2021, the Department of Public Safety’s Criminal Investigations Division conducted a web-based reverse sting operation in San Angelo. A special agent made an undercover profile using a social media site. A suspect contacted the undercover officer and agreed to pay a fee for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts. The suspect then acted on this intent by driving to a prearranged location at a set time for the purpose of sexual conduct. The suspect was detained and identified (his identity was disclosed in news releases after his adjudication).
Employment loss is another consequence of purchasing sex that has occurred in the city. For example, in January, 2018, a part-time Angelo State University adjunct instructor resigned in response to being arrested two weeks previously on allegations of soliciting prostitution. Three men were arrested on suspicion of Class B misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine up to $2,000. The arrests were made during a joint undercover investigation by the Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigations Division and Tom Green County Sheriff’s Office.
- Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Criminal Investigations Division
- Tom Green County Sheriff’s Office
Reverse Stings, Disclosure of Identity:
- “Sting Operations Target ‘Johns’, ‘Pimps'”, CBS/KLST-TV 8, June 11 2014.
- “Prostitution arrests include angelo state university professor.” Go San Angelo.com, January 12, 2018.
- https://www.myfoxzone.com/article/news/sapd-arrests-3-men-after-prostitution-sting (2018)
- https://www.gosanangelo.com/3-arrested-tom-green-county-after-undercover-prostitution-operation (2021)
- https://www.conchovalleyhomepage.com/weekend-jail-logs-october-11-2021-felony-solicitation-prostitute (2021)
- https://sanangelolive.com/two-san-angelo-men-get-surprise-ending-during-hunt-hookers (2022)
- https://sanangelolive.com/san-angelo-man-sentenced-online-solicitation (2022)
Employment Loss, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.gosanangelo.com/former-angelo-state-university-professor-pleads-prostitution-case (2018)
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:
- https://www.facebook.com/sanangelolive/prostitution-in-tom-green-county- (2014)
- http://www.sanangelopolice.org/joint-agency-undercover-sting-at-local-massage-parlors-two-arrests (2017)
- https://www.gosanangelo.com/everything-you-know-miss-hatties-bordello-wrong (2018)
- https://sanangelolive.com/prostitution-stalking-arrests-top-weekend-booking-report (2022)