Tarrant County, TX

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Web stings
License suspension

Tarrant County is situated in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. The county seat is Fort Worth, and its population is over 1.8 million. Like most large population centers, human trafficking and prostitution activity in the area are well documented. For example,in 2013 two Tarrant County men were sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for sex trafficking. One man pleaded guilty to one count of sex trafficking of a minor, and the other pleaded guilty to one count of sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion.  Investigators had learned that a 16-year-old girl had been sexually exploited in prostitution for a suspect while she was working as a stripper at a Fort Worth night club. The suspect posted advertisements of her on websites and drove her to hotel rooms in the DFW area and directed her to have sex with men for money. The offender took all of the proceeds and reinvested a portion of it to sustain the criminal enterprise (e.g., food, clothing, condoms, hotel rooms).  The second trafficker had exploited a 19-year-old woman in essentially the same way, and the victim testified that she was afraid to leave the offenders who had choked her, pulled her hair, poured drinks on her head and threatened to harm her – while pushing her to work longer hours and acquire more clients.  The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, as well as the North Texas Trafficking Task Force, including the Arlington, Dallas and Fort Worth police departments.

Among the tactics used to address both prostitution and sex trafficking are those that target consumer level demand for commercial sex.  In 2018, a new Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office Intelligence Unit had made sex trafficking its top target. The unit conducted “john” suppression stings, where they targeted men trying to purchase sex. In August, 2018, thirty male suspects were arrested and charged with prostitution as part of a joint operation between the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office and Arlington Police Department. The sting focused on people soliciting sex, and was affiliated with the National Johns Suppression Initiative, according to the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office.

Those arrested for attempting to pay to sexually abuse children can be charged with seriously felonies, including human trafficking and sexual abuse of a minor.  For example, in March, 2021, a joint undercover human trafficking operation resulted in six arrests in Tarrant County. Undercover detectives from the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office and collaborating agencies conducted a joint human trafficking operation to target child sexual abusers.  Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office detectives utilized personal advertisements, covert social media and communication platforms to communicate with potential suspects seeking to sexual access to a minor under the age of seventeen.  During the operation, after soliciting sex from undercover detectives posing as minors, six suspects traveled to an agreed location to meet them.  They were arrested, jailed, and their identities disclosed to the media.

Several cities within Tarrant County also focus on combating demand.  For example, the Fort Worth Police Department began conducting large-scale street-level reverse stings in the early 1980s. One operation in 1986 netted 81 johns in a single sweep. Shaming is also an important element of Fort Worth police response to combating commercial sex sales. In 2007, a program called “John TV” was introduced, and police have posted the names and photographs of people arrested for solicitation on both the city’s web site and on its community cable TV.


Key Partners

  • Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office
  • Homeland Security
  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Homeland Security Investigations
  • North Texas Trafficking Task Force
    • Arlington Police Department
    • Dallas Police Department
    • Fort Worth Police Department
  • Texas Department of Public Safety
  • Valiant Hearts

Key Sources

Reverse Stings:

Shaming and “John TV”:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:



State Texas
Type County
Population 1809034
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