Pimps, johns and human traffickers across Texas have been put on notice: Waco is not a good place for risky business.
Friday’s human trafficking sting operation led to the arrest of 61 people, including 11 alleged pimps on 89 charges related largely to prostitution and human trafficking.
The massive raid, a month-long undercover operation coordinated between the McLennan County Sherriff’s Office and the Homeland Security Investigation task force, was just the latest in a series of successful stings.
Over the past year and a half, the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office has conducted five sting operations that have resulted in the arrest of 203 people.
Those arrested in police raids have included school teachers, police officers, law students and sports coaches.
“The stings are a huge part of combating human trafficking because it’s a supply and demand business,” said Susan Peters, the executive director of anti-human trafficking and victim advocate organization UnBound. “They’re hitting the supply by hitting the traffickers and hitting the demand by arresting the johns.”
McLennan County lies at the heart of the Texas Triangle—a metropolitan area that connects 70% of the Texas population between the cities of Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio through a network of interstate highways. The concentration of cities along major interstate corridors has made the area a hotbed for human trafficking.
The ongoing prostitution problem in the area called for a new solution.
“Once we saw the problem was so prevalent here it created a need to address it in a more aggressive fashion,” said Detective Joseph Scaramucci, the lead investigator in Friday’s sting operation.
“We’re not gonna have women come to us and report they are being trafficked. We need to find them and work the cases from there.”
The Sherriff’s Office and Homeland Security Investigations have worked closely with UnBound to help bridge the trust between victims of sex-trafficking and law enforcement.
“They’re being arrested. They’re scared,” said Peters. “It takes time for them to understand that the police are not after you, they want your pimp.”
Scaramucci said: “We target the pimps and the johns. Being able to imprison the people who are imprisoning [women] is what counts.”
According to Peters, the solicitors of sex tend to be educated, married men.
She supports johns having their mug shots published.
“The biggest thing curtailing their behavior is to have it publicized so people in their workplace and the community know what they’re doing,” Peters said.
But it’s clear that word of the tough new sheriffs in Waco has spread to bad actors well beyond the local gossip grapevine.
“I asked a girl how she got here and she was so drugged up she said she didn’t even know she was in Waco,” Peters said. “The girl said to me ‘I wouldn’t have come here. Everybody knows they do stings here.'”
NY Daily News, July 12, 2016 – http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/massive-human-trafficking-sting-texas-leads-61-arrests-article-1.2691718