Punctuality rates fairly low on a drug dealer’s list of concerns, Johnson County Stop the Offender Special Crimes Unit Commander Adam King said.
“When they say they’ll meet you at 6 all that really means is they’ll show up when they get around to it,” King said. “And, on our part, the sitting around waiting, yeah it gets very boring sometimes.”
Alleged prostitutes it appears also hold little regard to promptness.
Friday night finds King in the parking lot of a Cleburne motel waiting on a girl who was supposed to have arrived 20 minutes ago about 40 minutes ago. Several minutes pass before word comes across the radio that the girl is about 15 minutes out, the GPS in her car having malfunctioned.
Hoping to leave Cleburne a couple of hundred dollars richer, the girl instead soon finds herself joining the list of several others arrested by area officers throughout last week for prostitution and other charges.
The arrest tally, as of late Friday night, totals 14. Officers from STOP, the Cleburne Police Department, Burleson Police Department and the Texas Attorney General’s Office collaborated to carry out the sting.
The operation grew out of an earlier undercover operation focused on nabbing online predators seeking sexual favors from children.
King credits CPD Cpl. Shane Wickson for submitting the proposal to the AG’s office that got the ball rolling on the initial online sting operation.
“One of the investigators on the Internet predator sting is with the AG’s Human Trafficking division who just happened to be here helping out with the first investigation,” King said. “Anyway, they contacted us after and asked if we’d be interested in setting up something for prostitution. We said, ‘Absolutely. Any help and training we can get we’re going to jump on.’
“We’ve had increasing complaints of prostitution. The good thing I guess, if you can call it a good thing, is that so far most of the girls involved in those instances aren’t from here. They’re coming in from Fort Worth, Dallas, the Metroplex to meet guys.”
With county population pegged to grow courtesy of the Chisholm Trail Parkway and other factors, King said he wouldn’t be surprised to see more homegrown prostitution creep into the county in the years to come.
“It’s different now,” King said. “Used to be you rolled up to a girl working the street, talked to her and made a deal and a bust. Now most of it’s on online ads and social media.”
Officers arrested 11 suspects through Thursday on prostitution and related charges. Suspects arrested include:
• Tamara Erin Waschell, 21, Arlington, prostitution.
• Lacy Jeane McNew, 20, Fort Worth, two counts of prostitution.
• Mandy Rae Mann, 40, Arlington, promotion of prostitution.
• Shane Bates, 33, Hurst, promotion of prostitution.
• Guy Minze, 43, Burleson, attempted trafficking of persons, aggravated promotion of prostitution and possession of a controlled substance.
• Johnesha Davis, 19, Fort Worth, prostitution.
• Ashley Tillery, no age or address listed, prostitution, possession of methamphetamine and possession of heroin.
• Alexis Nicole Ramos, 18, no address listed, prostitution.
• Melnedrick Laniqua Lister, 30, no address listed, prostitution.
• Karah Elise Flemens, 42, no address listed, prostitution.
• Hanna McGregor, 18, no address listed, prostitution.
Officers responded to online ads promoting sex and prostitution and set up meets with the girls at various hotels throughout Johnson County. Most were charged with prostitution, a misdemeanor. Police, however, found drugs on several of the suspects and added those charges as well.
“We’re conducting arrests,” King said. “But our goal here is really rescue. We look at these girls as victims more than criminals. What we’re targeting really is that a lot of these guys get underage girls involved in this stuff and that’s who we’re trying to find and rescue. These online ads show pictures of girls a lot of them look underage. The tricky part is we have no idea when those pictures were taken or how old the girls are until they show up here.”
Officers have not arrested any underage girls, King said.
“We still consider this a success,” King said. “Two of the prostitutes actually brought their children in the car with them. We had a boy about 1 1/2 and a girl about 4. They let their pimp baby-sit them in the car while they went into the hotel.
“We got CPS out here to take custody of those kids and get them out of that situation, which is a good thing. The CPS workers told us that’s not uncommon to see in the mid-cities. This type of operation is pretty new for us. We do see on drug deals though, people show up with their kids a lot.”
Minze arrived at a prearranged location at a hotel carrying a club, officers said. Planning, they surmise, to force underage runaway girls into prostitution.
Minze responded to an online ad posted by an undercover officer, according to his probable cause affidavit.
An officer, posing online as a 16-year-old girl, posted the ad promoting herself as a prostitute.
The ad was soon answered by Minze, according to the affidavit, who said he was willing to, “Supervise, manage and control a prostitution enterprise consisting of the 16-year-old girl and another of her underage friends."
Minze on Wednesday allegedly arrived at a predetermined location in Burleson hoping to meet both girls but was instead arrested.
The affidavit notes that the “girl,” through text and online messages, clearly stated to Minze that she was younger than 18.
“I don’t know what he was up to showing up with that club,” King said. “It chills me to think of what would’ve happened if there had actually been two 16-year-old girls in that room.”
Hard day’s night
Having been on site since early in the day, Friday’s wait of King and his fellow officers finally pays off around 9 p.m.
Two women, one with bright red hair, the second with green, pull into the hotel parking lot unaware that multiple cameras and sets of eyes are monitoring their activity.
“She’s definitely on something,” one officer remarks as the green-haired lady exits the car and stumbles down the sidewalk. The girl walks into the wrong hotel realizes her mistake and returns to the car but first crouches in the parking lot to urinate unaware that an officer in a vehicle several yards away is watching.
The driver pulls around to the right hotel at which point the green-haired lady goes in.
Several minutes later word comes across King’s radio that she is in custody.
Focus switches on what to do with the woman still in the car. King suggest holding off. Perhaps she’ll drive off and an officer can stop her down the street. Several minutes later officers relay that the alleged prostitute in custody claims that the girl in the car is also a prostitute. The decision is made to send a plain clothes undercover officer down to tell the girl that he’s up in the room with his friend and wants to have fun, too. Agreement reached, the officer and the girl enter the hotel. Minutes later, word comes down that she, too, is now in custody.
King enters the hotel at that point. Police are interviewing both women in the room. Their Friday night plans having been derailed; neither woman is thrilled.
“They’re not having it,” King said. “They’re cussing, yelling. That one little girl has a mouth on her.”
Police charge the suspects, Jada Wilson, 20, of Fort Worth and Sabia Smith, 19, of Fort Worth, with prostitution.
Several officers fill the hotel room next door to the bust scene monitoring the situation next door via surveillance and scanning online ads on laptops.
One officer reiterates King’s point concerning the goal of the sting operation.
“It’s rescue,” the officer says. “Hoping to find underage girls and get them out of this stuff.”
The officers points out online photos of girls advertising sex.
“See this one, and then this one, both of them look pretty young,” the officer says. “Of course, we don’t know until they get here how old they really are or where they’re coming from. Or even if the girl in the picture is even the same girl who shows up.”
Multi-tasking, the officers continues chatting online with a girl at the other end of a computer somewhere in North Texas. The two negotiate price and services. The girl replies that it will cost extra because of the drive to Johnson County.
One officers remarks that one of the alleged prostitutes just arrested is actually a pretty girl, save for the colored hair and face tattoos.
Kidding aside, King concludes that the situation is just sad from top to bottom.
“Like I said before, we consider these girls and women victims instead of criminals,” King said. “Most have just been victimized at every turn. A lot of it’s a generational thing. A lot of these girls also came from bad homes, abuse. They ran away from something to get into this world.”
The sad thing is, if they’d just ask for help, we’re here to help them. Help them get out of this into something better. But they don’t. They’re scared. Scared of their pimps, scared of not having their drugs. If they’d only reach out for help.
An hour or so later, Autumn Thomas, 37, of Springtown arrives at the hotel. She too is arrested for prostitution.