BELTON — Twenty men were arrested in Salado and Killeen by the Bell County Sheriff’s Department in a two-day prostitution sting.
The prostitution sting which captured thirteen active-duty soldiers and ranked from private to major, Sheriff Eddy Lange said Tuesday at a news conference.
“Most likely their military careers will be affected,” Lange said.
“I tasked the Special Crimes Unit with proactive law enforcement against human sex trafficking, which is a problem in Bell County,” Lange said. “The sting (which took only 16 hours) was held in conjunction with the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office.”
Five men were arrested in a Salado hotel, and the remaining 15 men were arrested in a Killeen hotel. All bonded out.
Online ads were placed and investigators waited. The first contact in less than 20 minutes, Lange said.
The online ads led to texting back and forth to agree upon a location and price, which was based on what the predators wanted, Maj. T.J. Cruz said.
Lt. Michele Cianci, Special Crimes Unit director, said the prices generally ranged from $60 to $200, depending on what sexual act they wanted and how long they wanted it.
Two men may face felony charges. One asked for sex with someone under the age of 18 and another wanted a “two-fer” — sex with a minor and an older woman, Cruz said.
Some of those arrested had previous criminal histories.
Quite a few women responded to the ad, but none of them showed up, Cianci said.
One man came from Waco to pay for sex because he said the Waco area “was too hot,” according to Lange.
Another man had his wife and mother waiting in a car in the parking lot, Cruz said.
Cruz, Cianci, a female deputy who played the role of prostitute, and others greeted the men as soon as they walked through the hotel room’s door. Cianci said their faces registered shock and anger, and some fought the officers or tried to run away.
The arrested men were booked in the room, which speeded up the process. Deputies were staged both inside and outside the hotel.
The hotels didn’t know the sting was happening until some offenders tried to run, Cruz said.
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Lange stressed it’s unknown who you’re really dealing with on the other end of a computer, and that his department is concerned about the safety of the victims and the ones preying on them for paid sex.
“We’re putting predators on notice,” Lange said. “We’ll be doing this on a regular basis. We want this area to be known as ‘too hot.’”
WATCH NOW: Bell County Sheriff's Office is holding a press conference on a recent prostitution sting
Posted by KXXV News Channel 25 on Tuesday, September 5, 2017
The military members arrested were:
MAJ Donta White, HHC, 89th MP Bde.
CW2 Ernest Grant, A Co, Warrior Transition Unit
WO1Gregory Hughes, HHC, 1st Combat Service Support Bn.
MSG Stanley Ervin, HHC, 13th ESC
SSG Kendrick Davis, B Co, 57th Signal Bn. 11th Sig Theater BDE
SSG Natalion Seymour, HHC, 2nd Chemical Bn.
SGT Carlos Castillo, 411 Military Police Co.
SGT Michael Culpepper, with 2nd Squadron, 7th Cav. Regt.
SPC Jimmie Joiner, with 3rd Bn., 227th Aviation Regt. 1st CAV
SPC Christopher Webster, III Corps
PFC Adrian Upshawn, C Co, 3rd BN BDE
PV2 Xavier Horne, with C Co, 2nd Bn., 227th Aviation Regt.
Normally, service members charged with solicitation who are convicted receive non-judicial punishment after the civil process is complete. This typically, according to military lawyers consulted by USAWTFM, leads to administrative separation.
Under the article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, however, service members caught “patronizing a prostitute” may face a maximum penalty of a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 1 year.
All of the men have been released on from jail on bonds ranging from $1,500 to $2,500.
Written by Deborah McKeon | FME News Service
This article was sourced and published by Killeen Daily Herald KDNEWS.COM and U.S. Army WTF moments.