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Published On: Fri, Jul 28th, 2017

Texas human trafficking bust leads to 37 arrests linked to soliciting underage children online

Texas law enforcement officials have arrested 37 people in and around Midland County as part of an ongoing investigation into human trafficking.

The Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigation Division of Midland’s Human Trafficking Operation arrested the 37 people in July for a variety of offences, including soliciting underage children online.

Photo/Vectorportal via wikimedia commons

CBS 7 reports that other offences include prostitution, promotion of prostitution, sexual performance of a minor, and distribution of harmful material to a minor.

As part of the DPS Criminal Investigation Division of Midland’s Human Trafficking Operation investigation, titled “Operation Damascus”, the investigation involved looking into potential adults who were soliciting underage children online. It also involved the rescue of victims of human trafficking.

The CBS report includes publishing mugshots and details.

According to Midland ISD Spokesperson Woodrow Bailey, parents reported that 59-year-old Earl Wade is a “familiar face” near campus. Bailey said he is not an employee nor is he a volunteer, but has been seen by parents near the school.

Wade was arrested and charged with Prostitution Solicitation of a Person Under 18, a 2nd Degree Felony.

Parents who contacted CBS 7 News speculated that the man might be a crossing guard. The independent company which hires and manages crossing guards, ACMS, ran the name and said he is not a current or former employee.

CBS 7 has obtained the arrest affidavits of suspects arrested in the “Operation Damascus” sting, read them here.

A 16-year-old girl was a law enforcement agent posing as the victim. The suspects agreed to as little as $10 to as much as $150 for intercourse.

photo/ Klaus Hausmann via pixabay

More from CBS:

9 suspects were arrested for Online Solicitation of a Minor.

3 suspects for Prostitution,

18 for Prostitution Solicitation of a Person under the age of 18.

3 other suspects are currently being sought after at this time and have warrants out for their arrest.

Midland County District Attorney Laura Nodolf thanked all of the agencies involved with the investigation for ensuring the safety of the children in the community.

“Without their dedication, these predators would still be walking the streets, targeting children, and possibly doing horrible things to them, so we applaud the agencies involved,” said Nodolf, “We applaud their efforts and their expertise.”

According to Nodolf, the decisions are still being made on which cases will be pursued federally and which will remain in state.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office will be working with the Midland County District Attorney’s Office on those decisions.

About the Author

- Catherine "Kaye" Wonderhouse, a proud descendant of the Wunderhaus family is the Colorado Correspondent who will add more coverage, interviews and reports from this midwest area.

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