Prostitution sting

Bell County Maj. T.J. Cruz, left, and Sheriff Eddy Lange on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, discuss the arrests of 20 men as a result of a prostitution sting.

Deborah McKeon/FME News Service

BELTON — Twenty men were arrested in Salado and Killeen by the Bell County Sheriff’s Department in a two-day prostitution sting.

Thirteen of the men were 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 was made 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.

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.’”

Those arrested were:

Denzel Renold Clifton, 24, of Cameron

Robert Darryl Lassiter Jr., 33, of North Homestead, Ohio

Maj. Donta Andrew White, 34, 89th Military Police Brigade, of Harker Heights

Warrant Officer 1 Gregory Dwayne Hughes, 34, 1st Combat Service Support Battalion, of Copperas Cove

Romelle People, 49, of Waco

Dontae Johnson, 35, of Nolanville

Spc. Jimmie Joiner, 23, 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, of Lorena

Staff Sgt. Kendrick Davis, 27, 57th Signal Battalion, of Copperas Cove

Master Sgt. Stanley Lamar Ervin, 41, 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, of Killeen

Pvt. Xavier Ernest Horne, 22, 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, of Fort Hood

Sean Gregory Muselman, 41, of Temple

David Lamar Hunter, 47, of Killeen

Pfc. Adrian Jamill Upshaw, 22, 3rd Cavalry, of Killeen

Sgt. Carlos Castillo, 33, 411 Military Police Company, of Fort Hood

Joseph Anthony Bartolomi, 44, of Killeen

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ernest Grant, 39, Warrior Transition Unit, of Killeen

Leonard Grant Slade III, 30, of Killeen

Staff Sgt. Natalion Seymour, 38, 2nd Chemical Battalion, of Salado

Spc. Christopher John Webster, 32, III Corps, of Temple

Sgt. Michael Paul Cyril Culpepper, 36, 1st Cavalry, of Killeen

Fort Hood did not provide information on who the 13th soldier was.

Herald staff writer Julie A. Ferraro provided additional information for this report.

(5) comments

ErichG

As a former and long ago Soldier, I understand how the community would want to clean this up but you have to face some facts here. Killeen being next to a Military Base which has a large transitory population, going after the Johns is like fighting a wildfire with a squirt gun. It makes more sense to go after the Prostitutes and Pimps. There are not that many Prostitutes in Killeen and I think this would be a much cheaper and more effective crime reduction approach. Also, when I say go after the Prostitutes, need to direct them to social programs and the like that get them better paying jobs with less risk so they are not as motivated to return to the street. Cost of a social program like that STILL a lot cheaper than attempting to deter a large transitory military population. I think prostitution is stupid and the men that patronize it equally dumb but I think a Law Enforcement organization would be a lot smarter on how they tackle a crime issue like this.

ImJustSayin

I think this is entrapment. These men were set up. Legalize prostitution and get it over with. In other countries this is a legit business and the women pay taxes and are under care of a physician. It is safer and less tabu. I do not have a problem with this and maybe it will bring down the number of rapes. I do not understand that they spent all this time and resources on this. Surely there are more pressing issues than men looking for these services.

THUGNIFICENT KILLED ME

People will eagerly destroy their lives (your life if you support them) and become a [pirate] in an attempt to satiate THREE urges: SEX ' LIQUOR, and DRUGS. [rolleyes][angry]

Pete

Waste of resources. Make it legal and remove one more source of income to the law enforcement industry. The sex workers could get regular health checks and of course the government would tax. Everyone would be happy and healthy - except the bible thumpers here in hypocritical central texas.

eyewatchingu

Way to go Lange, I hope you take some of the money your getting off these men, and use it towards programs for teenage runaway girls! Oh never mind use it for the police department as we all Know Phyllis Jones and her BLM groupies would only use it for the black girls, because white girls are privillaged, and any way according to Phyllis Jones gangs don't pimp out people nor is pimping people considered human trafficking. I hope she wasn't part of this, because if so, those attorneys can get those men off pretty darn quickly. Seems she can pose as a cop and not go to jail. So be warned peeps, look for a big fat woman that claims to be Naacp/ local dj/ human trafficking officer. Should have put her in jail.

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