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CTX sheriff's office in top ten for busting people who pay for sex

(Source: KXXV) (Source: KXXV)
MCLENNAN COUNTY, TX (KXXV) -

The McLennan County Sheriff's Office ranked 9th in a national effort to arrest people who want to buy sex, according to the Cook County Sheriff's Office in Chicago. 

The office invited McLennan County to be part of the "John Suppression Initiative", a crackdown on "Johns" that lasted for five weeks.

Here are the top ten departments*:

1. Cook County (Illinois) Sheriff's Office : 230** arrests

2. Seattle Police Department: 204 arrests

3. Columbus, Ohio Police Department: 167 arrests

4. Harris County (Texas) Sheriff's Office: 143 arrests

5. Houston Police Department: 82 arrests

6. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation: 74 arrests

7. Portland (Oregon) Police Department: 63 arrests

8. Boston Police Department: 57 arrests

9. McLennan County Sheriff's Office: 55 arrests

10. Oakland (California) Police Department: 42 arrests


The Seattle Police Department is the stand-alone agency with the most arrests, but if you compare Seattle's population to McLennan County's, the arrest rate comes out almost the same. 

"I was very surprised to learn that ... our effort was better than places like New York City, and Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Las Vegas – a lot of big cities," McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara said. "We’re gonna keep the heat turned up and the hammer down on them."

The sheriff said that McLennan County got involved with prostitution stings almost two years ago. Almost 200 people have been arrested since the stings have began.

"First sting we got 20, second sting 29, then 44, then 49, then 62," McNamara said. "Some of them, it’s hard to believe that we got them. We’ve gotten police officers, we’ve gotten prison guards, we’ve gotten professional athletes." 

But for McNamara, the craziest bust he's ever made was of a man who tried to pay for sex from two toddlers.

The sheriff said the man spoke with an officer impersonating a daycare owner to try to buy sex from a made up two and four year old.

"What a low-down, you-know-what, a guy like that is to what to meet up with a little toddler.,' he said. "That’s as low as you get."

Unfortunately, Susan Peters, the executive directory for UnBound, said that many times, kids are introduced to sex trade very young. 

"Many of these victims they’re 12 and 14 years old when they get introduced into this kind of criminal activity," Peters said. 

According to Peters, UnBound has been working with the McLennan County Sheriff's Office for almost two years. She said the organization also works with other law enforcement agencies to help sex-workers.

"We go on the stings with the sheriff’s office. It’s an honor to be in the trenches with our law enforcement," she said. "When we started investigating it, and researching it, and finding out how many young children are even advertised in our own community – we were compelled to do something."

UnBound provides training to kids so that they know how to look out for predators who may want to get them into the sex trade, and it also teaches social workers, doctors and educators what signs to look for. 

Peters said that although her work can get tough sometimes, she feels it is worth it at the end of the day.

"Going back home, sometimes, it goes through your mind – the trauma that many of these victims have been through over the course of their lives," she said. "But overall, when I lay my head down -- I’m thrilled that we’re doing something, we’re making a difference, and that every single day we are catching traffickers and we are rescuing victims."

Sheriff McNamara said another local sting will be held soon, and that he plans to join the next national sting as well. 

*numbers provided by the Cook County Sheriff's Office

**number includes 43 arrests from suburban agencies 

Copyright 2016 KXXV. All rights reserved.

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