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Local human trafficking sting operation helps rescue 2 women; 3 suspects arrested

Luis Jimenez
Joy Mellinger
Michael Stanford
Posted at 7:22 PM, Jan 17, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-17 20:22:51-05

WACO, Texas — The McLennan County Sheriff’s Department arrested three suspected human traffickers during a sting operation and saved two women’s lives.

Sheriff Parnell McNamara spoke to the media on Wednesday about the arrest.

His deputies arrested Luis Jiminez, Michael Stanford and Joy Mellinger, and charged all three with promotion of prostitution.

Officials also confiscated fentanyl and a handgun.

“We were very pleased to get guns off the street and the scumbag traffickers," Sheriff McNamara said.

Two adult female victims were also rescued during the sex trafficking sting.

They were sent to a recovery organization called Unbound.

Unbound Executive Director Kristi Hayes said, “We are so proud of our partnership, and couldn’t do it without law enforcement. We are grateful and thank you for helping our community and the survivors the way we do.”

Hayes said we all can help put sex traffickers behind bars.

“Traffickers prey on vulnerabilities, and it’s important to watch and support women and help any way you can.”

Sheriff McNamara said his department will continue to hunt sex traffickers.

“We’re never going to let up — we’re going to do everything we can because they are the worst of the worst and the conditions are over the top," he said.

"You wouldn’t believe how bad it is.”

The suspects are behind bars, and Jiminez is being detained by immigration officers.