BELL COUNTY, Texas (FOX 44) – Nine men have been arrested in a Bell County sex traffic/prostitution sting – including a Texas Department of Corrections Officer, a registered nurse and a bondsman.

The operation was conducted on April 19 and April 20 by the Bell County Sheriff’s Department, along with Fort Hood Law Enforcement. An undercover female deputy was at a location during the John Suppression Initiative Operation on April 19, and there were five arrested. In additon, an undercover female deputy was at a location during the John Suppression Initiative Operation on April 20, and there were four arrested.

With this operation, multiple charges were screened for each arrested.

The purpose of the operation is to crack down on sex trafficking and to identify/arrest individuals seeking sexual acts in exchange for a fee in Bell County. The operation involved authorities placing advertisements online to attract those interested.

The goal of the operation was geared toward the people, a.k.a. “Johns”, responding to advertisements and ultimately attacking the demand side of prostitution. If there is no demand, there is no need for the service.

Texas just became the first state to make a first-time solicitation of prostitution offense a felony. H.B. 2975 took effect on September 1, 2021 – offering or agreeing to engage in sexual conduct in exchange for a fee will go from a Class A misdemeanor to a State Jail Felony.