Walker County is located in the east central area of Texas. Its population is about 72,000, and its county seat is Huntsville. Prostitution activity has been well-documented in the city of Huntsville and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of Walker County. For example, in August, 2015, eight women were arrested and charged with prostitution in a multi-agency effort to stop human trafficking in the College Station area. The Department of Public Safety, Bryan Police and the FBI Innocence Lost Task Force partnered in the operation, in which investigators posed as johns to meet women offering services on backpage.com. The women were then arrested after meeting with undercover officers at arranged locations. The bust was part of a larger initiative to stop human trafficking, particularly of minors, in East Texas. In October, 2015, the Walker County Sheriff’s Department announced that 19 people were arrested for their part of a major drug and prostitution operation. Federal, state and local authorities were part of the investigation, and allege that there were two methamphetamine trafficking organizations distributing the drugs to Walker and surrounding counties, and a “large scale” prostitution ring that was operating in Huntsville, College Station, Liberty and Houston. Weapons seized were believed to have been connected to crimes in Walker County. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market are sex trafficking, child endangerment, and violence committed against people involved in these transactions.
Consumer-level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies in their strategy for prevention and response. To combat the array of problems stemming from commercial sex, local law enforcement agencies have conducted periodic reverse stings. For example, in September, 2014, the Huntsville Police Department arrested at least six men during a prostitution operation in the area. The deaprtment did not disclose details of the case, but disclosed that they arrested six men on charges of solicitation of prostitution. Also, one man was booked into the Walker County Jail on a third-degree felony charge of aggravated promotion of prostitution, and another was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, theft of a firearm and resisting arrest, search or transport.
- Walker County Sheriff’s Department
- Huntsville Police Department
- Texas Department of Public Safety
- Bryan Police Department
- FBI Innocence Lost Task Force
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:
- https://www.kbtx.com/Multi-County-Drug-Prostitution-Operations-Out-of-Walker-County-Busted (2015)
- https://www.chron.com/news/8-women-charged-with-prostitution (2015)
- https://www.texastribune.org/how-texas-pimps-recruit-and-sell-underage-girls-sex/ (2017)
- http://www.fox7austin.com/2-arrested-for-kidnapping-attempting-to-enter-girls-into-prostitution (2019)
- https://montgomerycountypolicereporter.com/major-meth-ring-shut-down-19-arrested/ (2019)