Tom Green County is located in west-central Texas, and its largest city is San Angelo. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been documented in the city and throughout the county, and several responses by law enforcement have occurred that focused on combating demand for commercial sex. 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, since 2013, DPS officers had arrested six johns and five pimps during sting investigations. 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. One of the arrested men later 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 must 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 May, 2018, a man was arrested by law enforcement at a San Angelo hotel during an undercover prostitution sting. The man had been sending text messages to undercover police officers from the Tom Green County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Department of Public Safety. Both agencies were conducting an undercover operation in Tom Green County and the suspect agreed to sex in exchange for money and methamphetamine, according to court documents. He arrived at a hotel where the undercover police officers placed him under arrest for prostitution. His identity was included in news reports.
- Tom Green County Sheriff’s Office
- Texas Department of Public Safety
- Criminal Investigations Division
Reverse Stings and Shaming:
- “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://ktxs.com/news/brownwood/brownwood-man-arrested-in-undercover-prostitution-sting-in-tom-green-county (2018)
- https://sanangelolive.com/news/crime/2019-04-09/sex-offender-refusal-register-and-prostitution-arrests-top-mondays-booking (2019)
- https://www.gosanangelo.com/2018/06/21/former-angelo-state-university-professor-pleads-prostitution-case (2018)
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking: