Taylor County is in city of approximately 136,000 residents, most residing in the city of Abilele (pop. 122,000), and is located about 200 miles West of the Dallas Fort Worth metropolitan area, along Route 10. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the city of Abilene and and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of Taaylor county. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses, and among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market are sex trafficking, and assaults on prostituted persons (for example, in 2010 a teen-aged male pleaded guilty to raping a prostituted woman in Abilene).
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. For example, in April, 2018 Taylor County sheriff’s deputies arrested an Air Force staff sergeant alleged to have attempting to solicit sex from a 15-year-old girl. Investigators with the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force charged the suspect with second-degree felony solicitation of prostitution and third-degree felony online solicitation of a minor. He had arrived at a predetermined location in Taylor County during a sting where he thought he was meeting with the girl to buy sex. On more than one occasion the two parties communicated electronically, with the offender soliciting various sexual acts, and offering to pay money for sex. He was held on $40,000 combined bond at the Taylor County Jail. He was later discharged in November, 2018, and in May, 2019, was indicted by a Taylor County grand jury for solicitation of prostitution and online solicitation.
The Abilene Police Department (APD) incorporated the use of street-level reverse stings in 2005. Operations are now conducted two to three times a year, using one or more female undercover officers as decoys. For example, at least three men were arrested in a street-level operation conducted in May 2018, and reverse stings in Abilene have yielded up to 18 arrests. Web-based operations have also been conducted. Once arrested, johns may have their names and other identifying information released to the public. As per state legislation, solicitors are charged with a Class A or B misdemeanor and jailed; men must post a bond of as much as $750 to be released. Convicted sex buyers are also forced to complete mandatory community service.
In their efforts to curtail commercial sex sales in the area, Abilene Police have assisted in the creation of several neighborhood watch programs. APD officers insist that residents’ tips and complaints have been invaluable when tracking prostitution activity in certain areas, and encourage community members to continue to report suspicious activity to local law enforcement.
- Taylor County Sheriff’s Office
- Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force
Web-Based Reverse Sting, Shaming:
- “16 Men, 4 Women Arrested in Daytime Prostitution Sting”, Abilene Reporter-News, March 3 2008.
- “Prostitution Arrest”, BigCountryHomepage.com, March 3 2008.
- “Five Big Country Men Arrested During Prostitution Sting Operation”, BigCountryHomepage.com, March 22 2012.
- http://www.bigcountryhomepage.com/2-abilene-men-fall-for-craigslist-child-sex-sting (2017)
- https://www.reporternews.com/air-force-staff-sergeant-arrested-online-solicitation/Taylor County TX (2018)
- https://ktxs.com/ex-dyess-airman-indicted-for-solicitation-of-prostitution-online-solicitation (2019)
- “Sting Targets Carver Area: Abilene Undercover Police Net Drug, Prostitution Arrests”, Abilene News-Reporter, December 14 2006.
- “Neighborhood Posts Signs to Deter Drug Use”, Abilene News-Reporter, June 24 2007.
- “Car Show Helps Raise Money for Carver Neighborhood Group I-CAN”, Abilene News-Reporter, October 15 2011.
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Abilene Police Execute Successful Prostitution Sting”, BigCountyHomepage.com, March 23 2012.
- “Abilene Police Cracking Down on Prostitution”, KTXS-TV 12, March 26 2012.