Wichita County is located northern Texas. Its population is an estimated 132,000, most of which reside in the city of Wichita Falls. It abuts Sheppard Air Force Base, the largest technical training wing and a NATO jet pilot training program. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the city of Wichita Falls and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of Wichita 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 problems associated with commercial sex in the area include child sex trafficking. For example, in 2014 several suspects in a prostitution and human trafficking investigation were arrested, and charged with compelling prostitution by a juvenile and trafficking of a person. Police reported that a routine traffic stop led to the arrests of two people who were apart of an organized prostitution ring working in Wichita Falls, Vernon and other areas. A DPS Trooper says he searched the vehicle and found maps, hotel book coupons, and other items that led him to believe the two were part of a prostitution ring. DPS and the Department of Homeland Security launched an investigation, and said the two were advertising escort services on a website, and that the female suspect assisted the male to” recruit and train” a juvenile in their prostitution service.
To combat prostitution and sex trafficking in the area, local law enforcement agencies have targeted consumer-level demand for commercial sex, which provides the revenue stream driving all commercial sex and trafficking. For example, in July, 2017, three men were arrested during a reverse sting Wichita Falls, when they showed up after being contacted by a cooperating witness working with the Wichita Falls Police Department’s Organized Crime Unit. Investigators said of the men each agreed to pay between $80 to $130 dollars, depending on the sexual act.
In October 2017, a joint sting operation involving Texas DPS, several local law enforcement agencies, and the FBI targeting online child predators resulted in ten Wichita Falls area suspects being arrested and placed in the Wichita County jail. Four were charged with compelling prostitution from victims under age 18, and six were charged with online solicitation of a minor. The identities of the men were publicly disclosed.
- Wichita County Sheriff’s Office
- Wichita Falls Police Department
- Organized Crime Unit
- Wichita County Jail
- Texas DPS
- Department of Homeland Security
Reverse Sting, Shaming:
- https://www.texomashomepage.com/news/local-news/three-men-arrested-during-undercover-prostitution-sting (2017)
- https://www.timesrecordnews.com/story/news/crime/2017/07/21/three-men-arrested-reportedly-soliciting-sex (2017)
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:
- https://www.texomashomepage.com/news/local-news/man-jailed-in-alleged-sex-trade-ring-in-wichita-falls (2014)
- https://www.texomashomepage.com/news/local-news/woman-jailed-after-prostitution-investigation (2015)
- https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndtx/pr/wichita-falls-man-sentenced-156-months-federal-prison-charges-involving-promoting (2017)