Thursday, July 29, 2004
61 Arrests Made in Texas Prostitution Ring
The Associated Press
ODESSA, Texas More than 60 people were arrested this week on charges related to a prostitution ring in this West Texas city.
Arrest warrants had been issued for 74 people and 61 were in custody by the end of Tuesday, said Odessa police Deputy Chief Lou Orras. Most turned themselves in at a makeshift booking station set up in a community center at an Odessa park, officials said. All were arraigned and released on bond by late Tuesday, officials said.
All except seven of those named in warrants were men.
Three of the women have been charged with a felony charge of aggravated promotion of prostitution, allegedly using two massage therapy locations as a front for their operation, Orras said. One man was charged with promotion as well as prostitution.
Those charged come from "all walks of life," Orras said.
One is a former school board member and others include teachers, attorneys, accountants and a journalist, he said.
Those charged with prostitution, a Class B misdemeanor, face up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine.
He declined to comment on whether additional arrest warrants will be sought.
"We're going to leave all our options open," Orras said.
Those with warrants outstanding were either out of town on business or on vacation and have contacted authorities, he said.
Others have told police they will not turn themselves in so officers will attempt to track them down to arrest them, Orras said.
The investigation has been ongoing for about a year, about when one of the massage therapy locations opened.
Investigators were not surprised at the ring's existence, only at its business volume, Orras said.
Officers have arrested up to 20 people for prostitution during a six-hour shift, he said.
"But this is the first time we've had any volume at a massage parlor," Orras said. "I think any town our size the potential for prostitution is there. I don't think we're any different."
Police Capt. Harold Thomas said authorities chose the park's community center for the booking site because it was close to the Ector County Detention Center.