Nine arrested in second sex trade sting

HARLINGEN — Harlingen police arrested nine women from across the Valley over the weekend in an effort to combat prostitution in town.

It was the department’s second round of sex trade arrests in two weeks.

The Harlingen Police Department’s Organized Crime Unit conducted the large scale sex trade sting resulting in the arrests over two days.

The operation ran from Friday, July 28 through Saturday, July 29.

“Last week’s efforts were focused on the persons who solicit or agree to pay for sex while this week’s operation focused on those who provide or agree to provide those services in the Rio Grande Valley,” said Jeff Adickes, Harlingen Police Department chief of police.

All nine suspects were arrested immediately after the solicitation and transported to the Harlingen Police Department for processing.

Among the women arrested:

  • Raven Nicole Flores, 25, Harlingen
  • Claudia Duguezne Medina, 32, Brownsville
  • Dora Lyzeth Cruz-Cerda, 28, La Feria
  • Nelly Abigail Martinez Sosa,33, Brownsville
  • Yovanna Gonzales, 29, Brownsville
  • Laura Palomino, 37, San Benito
  • Tawauna Clay, 26, Harlingen
  • Brisa Mari Flores, 22, McAllen
  • Ruth Amelia Chaves, 38, Edcouch.

All transactions were audio and video recorded for courtroom purposes.

Charges stemming from this operation included prostitution, possession of marijuana, possession of controlled substance, and endangering a child in which an arrestee had taken her small children with her to the transaction.

The Harlingen Police Department’s Organized Crime Unit in partnership with other HPD personnel, and the Cameron County District Attorney’s office conducted its second two-day prostitution sting in as many weeks.

“We will continue to respond to our community’s complaints and concerns regarding human trafficking, the sex trade industry, and the impact to our city, state, and nation along with the unknowing families of those who seek out and perpetuate the victimization associated with it,” Adickes said.

This operation was made possible by funding from a Texas Border Star grant that assists law enforcement agencies in battling issues such as organized crime, human trafficking of women, men, children, and immigrants who many times are forced into the sex trade, or sex slave trade by force, fear, intimidation, or drugs.

According to estimates, approximately 2.5 million people are being trafficked around the world.

Approximately 80 percent are women and children. The Harlingen Police Department would also like to recognize the law enforcement partners involved in the success of the operation, namely, the State of Texas, the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office, and the City of Harlingen Municipal Court.

“In addition to prostitution and drug charges it was disheartening to see child endangerment charges for one person who brought their minor children to complete their transaction,” Adickes said.

The Harlingen Police Department reminds citizens to report any suspicious activity to their local police department.

Contact (911) for Emergencies Police Communications Center at (956)216-5940, H.P.D. Front Desk Supervisor at (956)216- 5401, Harlingen Area Crime Stoppers at (956)425-TIPS (8477).