Eighteen people have been arrested in a major prostitution sting. The investigation actually took officers to a few unexpected places including near area schools. In fact, the reason law enforcement in Northwest Harris County launched the operation is pretty disturbing.
After receiving a high number of complaints about prostitution in the area, the Harris County Precinct 4 Constable’s Office set up a sting when a kid simply walking home from Dekaney High School was solicited by a prostitute.
"No parent wants their kids in danger,” says Houston resident Norma Ortega.
Prostitution had gotten so bad in the area of FM 1960 and I-45 parents became concerned for their kids’ safety.
"My children attend school here (at Dekaney High School). It’s very concerning because it brings perverts to the area. While our children are walking you never know what can happen,” says a mother who did not want to give her name.
Another child who attends Dekaney High School with her kids was actually solicited by a prostitute.
"It’s really disturbing that they can’t even go to school and study without being accosted,” says resident Steven Cooper.
"That’s really terrible. That’s too far, too far,” adds area resident Lakesha Nash.
Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman agrees. As a result, he launched a sting operation, posing undercover officers as prostitutes. 18 men were arrested, some in broad daylight, near places we don’t normally associate with crimes.
"Many of these locations that we worked along the FM 1960 corridor and 45 areas are near schools, churches, daycares,” Constable Herman explains.
One of the 18 men was even charged with being a felon in possession of a gun. Some also have criminal records. Kenneth Allen is a registered sex offender with a history of victimizing children.
"Prostitution breeds other crimes and other things that deteriorate our community,” says Herman.
"It’s very disturbing when you’ve got the babies around here and they’re just innocent and they’re just trying to get an education. Then you have people like that that are stopping them and trying to offer them sex. (And you see it out here?) Yes ma’am,” says another mother who did not want to be identified.
Some workers in the area say the prostitutes often hang out in their parking lot soliciting customers. Constable Herman says he’s not going to tolerate it. He says this time his deputies went after guys trying to buy prostitutes because if they eliminate the demand they eliminate the problem.