ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) - Abilene police assisted in child sex crime, human trafficking, and prostitution sting operations that netted 62 arrests in West Texas last month.
Operation Gauntlet, a series of online and street sting operations, took place in Midland and Ector Counties from February 16 to March 3, leading to the arrests of 62 suspects charged with Online Solicitation of a Minor, Prostitution, and more.
The first sting operation, dubbed 'Child Predator Sting', involved undercover agents posts personal ads online using the persona of a 13-year-old female, eliciting replies from 330 different phone numbers. 7 suspects were arrested.
Next, during the 'Buyer 'John' Sting', undercover agents posed as 16-and-19-year-old females soliciting sex online. 756 different phone numbers responded to the ads. 31 suspects were arrested for either Prostitution or Prostitution - Soliciting a Person under the age of 18.
Human Trafficking Victim Recovery, the last sting operation, netted 23 arrests after undercover agents posed as a 16-year-old soliciting sex online. They also sent undercover agents onto the streets posing as human trafficking victims soliciting sex as well as 'Johns' buying sex in order to identify and recover real human trafficking victims.
During the 15-day period Operation Gauntlet took place, investigators responded to 12,329 messages from 1,361 unique phone numbers.
The Texas Department of Public Safety, the Odessa Police Department, the Midland Police Department, the Midland County Sheriff's Office, the Midland Fire Department, the Andrews Police Department, the Abilene Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the United States Marshal's Service, the Department of Family and Protective Services, and the Midland County District Attorney's office all assisted in making Operation Gauntlet a success.
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