LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - It is a so-called job that many expect to find only in big cities. However, drive down 19th Street near Avenue Q on any given day and Lubbock police say you can spot prostitution.
NewsChannel 11 begins an in-depth look at prostitution in the Hub City as we ride along with Lubbock police while they attempt to curb the illegal business.
As the sun slowly dips below the Lubbock skyline, police sergeants Nathan Anderson and Kelley Pirkle assemble their team. On this evening, Anderson and Pirkle lead a reverse prostitution sting. Their target is not the sellers, rather their customers commonly known as "johns".
While Anderson and Pirkle set up a command unit, several teams of officers spread out through this neighborhood known for prostitution. For this sting, two undercover female officers will take turns working the streets near 19th and Avenue Q. "Sounds our undercover officer is out on the street," Anderson said.
From the command vehicle Anderson and Pirkle watch the undercover officer both for safety and to see if a john comes her way. "This is the recording device the girls are going to be carrying. That way it's just a one-way transmitter that we can hear what's being said out there," Anderson said.
Initially business starts out slow, as the undercover officer wearing jeans and a camouflage t-shirt walks back and forth along two blocks. Anderson says where you find prostitution you also find drugs, something he says is now more prevalent in this area since the cleanup of North Overton began.
"Newer model Ford pick-up crew cab that one is looking at her pretty hard. He's going westbound on 19th now," Anderson says over the radio to other officers. "She's walking around to the driver's side," Anderson relayed. "All right that's a deal. He's going north bound on O," he added.
Just moments later undercover teams arrest 52-year-old Billy Shaw. Police reports show Shaw agreed to pay $10 for oral sex. In Texas, an arrest can be made once a sexual act is agreed to in exchange for money or property, be it drugs or other items.
According to crime statistics, in the last three years the number of arrests for solicitation of prostitution has increased more than 25% in the Hub City. That includes both prostitutes and their customers. "It's pretty common around the central part of town, some the neighborhoods of the interstate and then some of the local hotels," Anderson explained.
Minutes later a new undercover female officer in jeans and a ripped t-shirt hits the streets. Soon Anderson says another deal is made. "He's heading west northbound on O," Anderson says over the radio, "We'll get him we have lights," Officers said.
In this case, the undercover officer gave a take-down order. Moments later officers rush in and as you can see, one john has just been arrested. "Unless you are out here on a regular basis it will run rapid," Anderson said.
Officers also arrested 19-year-old Michael Boggio. He allegedly made a deal with an undercover officer, $20 for sex. On his way to jail Boggio said," May I please ask what's going on?" Officer, "You're under arrest." Boggio, "For?" Officer, "Prostitution." Boggio," I wasn't even going to pick her up." Officer," You made the deal." Boggio, "Did not."
In a sting that lasted just more than five hours, police arrested and charged eight men for prostitution. Those include Billy Shaw, Michael Boggio, Felisiano Bustamante, Javier Delossantos, Alfredo Molinar, Alejandro Gonzales, Lupe Garza and Darrell Cooper.
Cooper is the only one still behind bars. If found guilty, the men could face up to 180 days in jail and/or up to a $2,000 fine.
The prostitutes in this story were undercover officers. But what is like to walk the streets for a living? Join us Monday night on NewsChannel 11 at 10 as we share the story of a woman who spent six years selling sex to fuel an addiction.