A prostitution sting in north Harris County netted 44 total arrests related to street-level prostitution, with firearms and drug charges piled on for some suspects.
Authorities focused their attention on an area between FM 1960 and Interstate 45, where residents and business owners reported high activity.
The sting was part of a two-week undercover operation conducted by Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman’s office.
Officials are working to lower demand for prostitution, which they say drives sex trafficking.
“Street level prostitution is the driving force behind much of the demand for human trafficking,” Herman explained in a press conference following the arrests. “This operation we feel may have rescued potential victims from the streets and prevented other crimes in Precinct 4.”
Four of the individuals arrested in the sting claimed to be victims of human trafficking.
Since mid-August, authorities have made almost 300 arrests related to prostitution because of an increased focus on the crime.
Authorities say 5 of the 44 arrested in this sting were pimps, one of whom drove a girl to a service call with a toddler and a stolen gun in the vehicle.
Tony Bunch, a Spring resident who was caught in a February sting, was arrested for a second time. Bunch says he had just left his job at a railroad company and was going to meet a man to buy a cell phone. It was a Friday afternoon.
When he stopped to get gas at a station on FM 1960, Bunch claims an attractive woman asked him for help. She then told him her rates, and Bunch agreed to pay her for sex.
Soon after, he says he regretted the decision, but it was too late. Police had already arrived to make their arrest.
“I didn’t touch her or give her money. She initiated every bit of it,” Bunch told the Houston Chronicle. “Initially, I made a poor decision but I tried to correct it. Why can’t you let a guy have a break?”
Charged with “prostitution public payment of,” according to court documents, Bunch has since retained an attorney for his Nov. 14 court date.