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Almost men, including a Houston police officer, were arrested during a day sting at former massage parlor turned brothel that was taken over earlier this month by the Houston Police Department, officials announced Thursday, Oct. The flapping vinyl banner over the storefront in a west Houston stripmall proclaimed "Under New Management," and apparently told customers everything they needed to know about the illicit business inside. Almost men, including a Houston police officer, found out too late that the new management were actually undercover vice officers operating the massage parlor that had been a well-known underground brothel in the past.
Dozens of men including two attorneys, a teacher and the police officer, were arrested earlier this month during a day sting, law officials announced Thursday. Springboarding on that notorious reputation, police officers with HPD's vice division reopened it on Oct. Most of the men were arrested at the brothel after money changed hands, and they were then booked into jail. A blueprint provided at Thursday's press conference showed a floor plan that included makeshift sleeping quarters and a "dungeon" with shackles, apparently to keep women against their will when it was a working bordello.
Asked about the officer who was arrested in the sting, Acevedo did not name him, saying civil service guidelines prohibited him from releasing the identity or firing the officer while the case is being investigated. The chief said the officer had been put on leave while the case is pending. However, Acevedo took the opportunity to emphasize the arrest demonstrates HPD can be trusted to investigate and arrest officers accused of wrongdoing.
We're not trying to hide that," the chief said. Around Houston's criminal courthouse, defense lawyers with clients who had been arrested in the sting have groused for weeks over whether HPD should be spending resources operating brothels instead of arresting brothel owners. The attorneys spoke on the condition that they were not identified for fear of putting their client's cases in the spotlight when they come to court. There was no rent, electricity or other expenses relating to the property because the landlord donated those overhead costs in a bid to cooperate in cleaning up the area.
Merritt also said the ethnicity of the "johns" were 70 percent white. She said 11 percent were black, 9 percent were Asian, Hispanics were 5 percent and 3 percent were Indian. The data was part of information that officials are collecting as they look at new ways to go after prostitution and human trafficking. Acevedo noted that for years law enforcement has focused on arresting the prostitutes, many of whom are being forced to work. Now, he said, police are going after the buyers. Acevedo expressed hope these types of operations, and the public exposure from the publicizing of their name and mugshot, will discourage men from paying for sex.
Children At Risk, a non-profit organization that champions juvenile issues, has determined that there are to illicit massage parlors operating in Houston at any given time, Acevedo said. Houston's illegal sex trade is divided into several different kinds of enterprises, Acevedo said.
About 60 percent of prostitution arrests are street walkers, while illicit massage parlors and spas make up about 11 percent of arrests. Brothels, modeling studios, escort services, bikini clubs, cantinas, bars and hotels or motels make up 30 percent of arrests, Acevedo said, adding the internet has made it easier to operate or hide these businesses.
Celena Vinson, a lawyer with the Harris County Attorney's Office, said county officials are working to close illegal businesses using state nuisance abatement laws. Most Popular. Today's Picks. Houston bowler who rolled first televised perfect game dies at Texas principal who embraced critical race theory suspended. California developer calls y.
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