The Woodlands, 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
The Woodlands is a planned community and census-designated place in Texas, within the Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area. It is primarily located in Montgomery County, with portions extending into Harris County, and has a population of about 115,000 residents.  Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the region, and the problems and ancillary crimes they generate result in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is child sex trafficking. For example, in February, 2018 a woman was arrested and sentenced to 40 years in prison for charges resulting from her offering to sell her 2-year-old daughter for sexual abuse. Undercover officers in Montgomery County had encountered the woman on a social media site, and she had forwarded photos of young girls and asked if there was anyone who wanted “to have fun” with her daughter. The suspect thought she was meeting a man who would pay for sex with the toddler, and was arrested and charged promotion of prostitution, sexual performance by a child, and trafficking of persons younger than 18.

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.  To identify and apprehend local sex buyers driving the prostitution and sex trafficking markets, the Woodlands Police Department and the MCSO have conducted reverse stings.  he Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office led a collaborative effort to conduct a comprehensive prostitution and human trafficking sting. Detectives and agents from multiple agencies along with Non- Government Organizations (NGOs) worked in an undercover capacity posing as both “Johns” and “Prostitutes.” The latter was designed to identify those seeking to purchase sex from adults or juveniles, and 21 sex buyers were arrested in the Woodlands area (in addition to the arrest of  11 pimps and 28 prostituted women). Suspects faced a variety of charges, including prostitution, aggravated promotion of prostitution, possession of a controlled substance, weapons and narcotics. “Operation Cross County” was designed to proactively address prostitution and human trafficking activity in the communities and surrounding areas of the county.  Police services in Woodland are provided through the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office (The Woodlands Police / South County Sheriff’s Office), and collaborating with them on this operation were the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, Houston Police Department, Conroe Police Department, Montgomery County Precinct 3 Constable’s Office, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Attorney General’s Office, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. State Department.

Loss of employment is another consequence of buying sex that has occurred within the community. For example, in July, 2017, a senior pastor at The Woodlands First Baptist Church was arrested in a reverse sting in Harris County, where he allegedly attempted to pay an undercover police officer for sex.  Soon afterward, the church  received and accepted the man’s resignation. The 52-year-old had been a pastor at The Woodlands First Baptist Church since 2012.

Key Partners

  • The Woodlands Police / South County Sheriff’s Office
  • Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office
  • Montgomery County Pct. 3 Constable
  • Houston Police Department
  • Harris County Sheriff’s Office
  • FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Conroe Police Department, Texas
  • Texas Department of Public Safety
  • Texas Attorney General
  • DeliverFund
State Texas
Type City
Population 114532
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