Wichita Falls is a city of approximately 105,690 residents, located in northern Texas. It is the county seat of Wichita County, and the principal city of the Wichita Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses all of Archer, Clay, and Wichita Counties. Its central business district is five miles from 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 and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of the 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.
In November, 2020, Wichita Falls Police arrested a man on charges related to his attempting to buy sex with a child. According to the police report: officers investigated a report of 14-year-old girl being solicited for prostitution. The girl’s mother told them a man they knew from church had given her daughter a ride home, making a stop to try to get some marijuana, and then driving her to the Lake Wichita Spillway where he asked her what she would do for $40. The girl said the man leaned his car seat back, spread his legs and “upped” the offer to $100 and then $200. The girl turned him down, he joked about the offer and drove her home. She said he asked for her phone number, but she gave him a fake one. During an interview with police, the man corroborated the victim’s statement. He said he knew the victim was using marijuana and was sexually active and had said she would do sexual favors in exchange for the drug. He claimed he was trying to extract information from the girl to tell her mother. A warrant was issued, and police arrested the 54 year old man and charged him with Criminal Solicitation of a Minor-Compelling Prostitution Under Age 18. His bond was recommended at $200,000. This case was not a reverse sting, but involved the shaming of an arrested sex buyer.
- Wichita Falls Police Department
- Organized Crime Unit
- Texas DPS
- Department of Homeland Security
- Police Department
- County Sheriff’s Office
- Wichita County Jail
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)
- https://www.timesrecordnews.com/story/news/local/2020/12/15/older-man-solicits-teen-sex/3904541001/ (2020)
- https://www.newschannel6now.com/2020/12/15/wf-man-accused-soliciting-prostitution-minor/ (2020)
- https://www.texomashomepage.com/news/local-news/wichita-falls-man-charged-with-compelling-prostitution-by-14-year-old-girl/ (2020).
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)