As part of its continuing effort to fight sex trafficking in Tarrant County, the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office recently arrested 41 suspects on charges for in-person and online solicitation of persons for prostitution.
“These criminals are in our state and in our county, and we will go after them with the gust of a hound dog,” Sheriff Bill Waybourn emphasized.
The Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office has participated in the National Johns Suppression Initiative for three years. The initiative focuses on arresting those who are soliciting individuals to engage in prostitution as part of an effort “to curtail the demand which drives human sex trafficking.”
“If we don’t deter the demand side, there will always be sex trafficking victims,” Waybourn told The Texan.
The initiative is about a month-long from January through the first part of February.
The sheriff’s office prepares the cases then forwards them to the appropriate prosecutor. For state charges, the cases are sent to the criminal district attorney’s office. Due to the ongoing investigation, the sheriff’s office could not confirm the immigration status of any of the subjects.
While she couldn’t speak directly about the disposition of each case, the district attorney’s spokesperson said they work with the sheriff’s office on these cases. “There is a concentrated effort by county and state law enforcement to combat sex trafficking.”
Lindsey Speed, president of Traffick911, is supportive.
“We are proud of our law enforcement partners, like the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office, who chose to invest their resources in the National Johns Suppression this year.”
Groups like Traffick911 explain that the issue is one of supply and demand. If the demand is targeted and reduced, then the result will be a reduction in sex trafficking victims.
“If we didn’t have demand (people choosing to purchase sex) then traffickers would go out of business,” Speed told The Texan.
“We hope that some (johns) will get into therapy and be rehabilitated,” Waybourn said.
The initiative began in Cook County, Illinois (Chicago area) in 2011. It is a shift from the previous focus on arresting women prostitutes.
According to a 2012 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, over 43,000 women were arrested for prostitution compared to just 19,000 arrests of men.
But efforts like the National John Suppression Initiative are changing that.
“Human trafficking is modern-day slavery. There are over 300,000 people being trafficked in Texas alone, with 79,000 of them being children,” Waybourn explained. “We will find you and we will work to prosecute each and every person that deals in this horrific crime.”
Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.