Amarillo is a city of approximately 191,000 residents, located two hours north of Lubbock in Potter County, Texas. Residents and local law enforcement have reported problems with prostitution in the city, specifically along Amarillo Boulevard. Cases of sex trafficking of children and the murder of prostituted women have also been documented in the city. In response, the Amarillo Police Department has adopted several demand-driven tactics to identify and apprehend local sex buyers. Police conduct periodic street-level reverse stings, using undercover female officers as decoys. When johns attempt to solicit sex from the women, they are arrested. These operations have at times netted just under 10 sex buyers in a single evening. Arrested men may have their names publicized in local media outlets.
For example, a street-level reverse sting occurred in December 2013, in which six men were arrested on Amarillo Boulevard. Undercover female officers posing as prostitutes approached male customers who were interested in engaging in sexual activities in exchange for money, resulting in the arrest of six men, who were booked into the Potter County Corrections Center on prostitution and other charges.
Web-based reverse stings have also been conducted in Amarillo. For example, in September, 2017, seven men were arrested during a joint online internet operation targeting child predators. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, DPS, the online operation and was assisted by Homeland Security and the West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) Police Department. DPS said seven suspects were arrested and booked into the Randall County Jail on a variety of charges, including Compelling Prostitution Child Younger than 18 years of age, and Online Solicitation of a Minor.
In September 2018 a similar operation occurred, resulting in the arrest of six men for online solicitation of a minor in Amarillo. The Amarillo Police Department had received information over the prior year and half that several local teenage girls were involved in human trafficking. Some of these underage girls have been forced into this type of behavior and others are prostituting themselves on dating and escort sites.The APD Special Victims Unit and ProActive Criminal Enforcement unit (PACE) conducted an undercover operation with Special Victims Unit Detectives posing as 15-16 year olds.The suspects initiated contact with the undercover officer by text messages and arranged to have sex for money. When the suspects arrived at the agreed upon location they were arrested, interviewed and booked into the Randall County Jail for online solicitation of a minor, a felony offense.
In 2016, the organization “No Boundaries International” opened a chapter in Amarillo, specifically focusing on human trafficking. In addition to prevention and victim services, the group launched a “john school” course for those who pay for sex.
- John Arrests:
- Reverse Stings with Shaming:
- “Amarillo Police Arrest 12 on Prostitution Charges”, Amarillo Globe-News, July 16 2004.
- “Prostitution Extends Beyond the Boulevard”, Amarillo Globe-News, February 11 2007.
- “8 Face Charges After Prostitution Sting”, Amarillo Globe-News, December 23 2011.
- “Ten Men Charged in Reverse Prostitution Sting”, My High Plains, April 5 2013.
- “6 Men Arrested in Amarillo Prostitution Sting”, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, December 13 2013.
- “Six Men Arrested in Undercover Prostitution Sting”, CBS/KFDA-TV 10, December 13 2013.
- Web-Based Reverse Sting:
- John School:
- Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Affidavit: Man Coerced Amarillo Teen into Prostitution”, ABC/KVUE-TV 24, August 3 2013.
- “Texas Man Sentenced for Using Teen as Prostitute”, Contra Costa Times, October 29 2013.
- “Amarillo Man Admits to Trying to Force Teen into Prostitution,” NBC/KAMR-TV 4, July 9 2015.
- “19-Year-Old Sentenced to 11 Years in Teen Prostitution Case,” NBC/KPRC-TV 35, September 20 2015.
- Background on Prostitution in the Area: