San Antonio, TX

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Shaming
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Letters
Cameras
Web stings
License suspension

San Antonio is the largest city in southern Texas, with a population of over 1.3 million. Prostitution and child sex trafficking have been identified by community leaders and law enforcement agencies as substantial problems in the city. In addition, local law enforcement and media outlets have reported cases of the targeted attack and murder of sex sellers, including a 2013 case involving a woman who took money but refused to have sex with a john who then killed her.

Among their efforts to address prostitution and related crimes, law enforcement have incorporated tactics that focus on underlying demand for commercial sex. Some operations have been large in scale; for example, in 2012, several collaborating agencies including the San Antonio Police Department, Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, and U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement arrested 64 men in just under nine hours for trying to buy sex from three undercover policewomen. During the operation, police also impounded 47 vehicles used by the johns for soliciting sex.

The SAPD has also conducted several, smaller-scale reverse stings in targeted areas of the city following complaints from residents about street prostitution. In January 2013, SAPD undercover officers posed as decoy sex sellers, resulting in the arrest of dozens of sex buyers on the city’s South Side. In July 2014, officers conducted a reversal in the District 5 area, arresting 10 sex buyers in the process. Following both operations, the names of all of the individuals arrested were released to the public; an SAPD representative also reported that officers had received complaints from people living in the area about prostitution, encouraging the department to conduct the stings. In May 2018, a reverse sting carried out by the San Antonio Police Department resulted in the arrest of six men suspected of hiring prostitutes.  The operation consisted of female undercover SAPD officers approaching men in their vehicles, in the area of Guadalupe Street and S. Picoso on the city’s west side, according to SAPD records.

In January 2015, a john school program began operating in San Antonio.  The program is delivered by a faith-based organization, Embassy of Hope, and the San Antonio Police Department and Bexar County District Attorney’s Office are key partners in its design and utilization.  The program is delivered as an 8-hour class or as multiple counseling sessions.

In November 2015, the SAPD announced that it would begin posting the names and photos of individuals arrested for attempting to purchase commercial sex acts to the department’s Facebook page. Five offenders were included in a “first post,” displayed the week of November 22nd. Along with the men’s identities, the post included the following warning to other would-be sex buyers:

“Why risk embarrassment, possible job loss, arrests, STD’s and the victimization of women. Nobody wins.”

 

Key Sources

State Texas
Type City
Population 1328984
Location
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