HOUSTON – A nationwide sex sting snared hundreds of suspected “Johns" and most of them were in Harris County. It's one of the so-called capitals of the sex trade.
“This should be a notice to sex buyers out there,” said HCSO Vice Commander Jesse Inocencio. “That you may just find your mug shot on the 5 o’clock news.”
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office made 103 arrests.
That’s more than any other department participating in the nationwide operation that netted more than 630 suspected Johns in all.
"We are disturbed that the demand for the illegal sex trade remains strong in Harris County despite sting operations like the one we just conducted," said Chief Edison Tiquica with the Harris County Sheriff's Office.
The suspects include men of all ages and occupations and many of them are married.
Undercover female deputies placed online ads for sex services.
Then they set up rendezvous points with men who responded at nine local motels.
“For a lot of us, we don’t want to think this, but there’s a lot of men in our lives that aren’t that far off from being where these 103 are,” said Love People, Not Pixels founder Beau Abdulla.
Abdulla’s non-profit, known as LPNP for short, was invited to a briefing to help illustrate the effort to give Johns a way out.
In this case, men with possible sex addictions who’ve come to obsessively rely on commercial sex.
Abdulla says 52 of the 103 suspects arrested in this latest sting agreed to speak with an LPNP volunteer.
And 31 voluntarily supplied contact information and expressed a desire for help.
LPNP hopes to recruit and train 1000 volunteers to aid its mission by the end of next year.
“So next time it’s not your dad, or your brother, or your coworker, or your friend, or your husband up on that wall,” said Abdulla.
LPNP may be working to rehab suspected Johns.
But the Harris County District Attorney’s Office appears to be getting tougher on them.
A prosecutor told us that pre-trial diversion is no longer the norm.
They’re seeking more jail time and probation in most cases.
A new program called Project 180 is aimed at rehabilitating victims of the sex trade without leaving them with a criminal record.