WACO, Texas (FOX 44/KWKT) — McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara called a press conference Friday morning to discuss a human trafficking operation recently completed by his office.
Sheriff McNamara says his team arrested 17 people during a ten-day sting operation that started in June.
13 people face charges of trying to purchase sex from an adult; two more are accused of trying to pay for sex with a minor; and another two people face charges of online solicitation of a minor.
Joshua Dewitt of Tomahawk, Wisconsin is accused of online solicitation of a minor. He is in the process of being extradited to McLennan County. Sheriff McNamara said Dewitt has victimized roughly 20 people nationwide.
Here is the full list of arrests and the charges they face:
SOLICITATION OF PROSTITUTION OF A MINOR CHARGES:
- David Denson
- Christopher Mercer
ONLINE SOLICITATION OF A MINOR CHARGES:
- Tyler Ritchie
- Joshua Dewitt
SOLICITATION OF PROSTITUTION CHARGES:
- Lance Webb
- Jacob Pifer
- Joseph Fontaine
- Alfred Dupree
- James Connolly
- Raymond Rowley
- Ethan Prawiro
- Shane Meyer
- Evan McConnell
- Michael Kasberg
- Joshua Porsche
- Danny Coffman
- Sergio Hernandez
The McLennan County Sheriff’s Office says human trafficking and online solicitation make a demand for problems in the community.
Sheriff McNamara says being proactive is key before damage is done.
“You would think as many of these that we have done in arresting hundreds and hundreds of these solicitors here in McLennan County, that they would get the message, but apparently these didn’t,” said McNamara. “I want the public to know that we’re never going to let up on them. We’re going to keep the heat turned up and hammer down on these sex bats and these perverts, basically, the ones that are going after our kids.”
McLennan County Sheriff’s Office Detective Joe Scaramucci said they have fake advertisements and undercover accounts to lure offenders.
“I think the interesting thing is the last two sting operations we’ve done like this, the overwhelming majority of the clientele that are arrested are not citizens of Waco,” said Scaramucci. “I think it has made the point around here that we are going to arrest you for attempting to purchase sex, and we’re getting the people that would still be coming into our community to do that as well.”
Sheriff McNamara hopes the District Attorney’s office will look at these cases to prosecute these individuals.
McNamara cited recent law changes to move solicitation of a prostitute from a misdemeanor to a felony.