Trafficking sting

Trafficking sting

McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara walks into a room with mug shots laid out on a table before addressing news outlets Wednesday. McLennan County participated in the 13th National Johns Suppression Initiative over the past three weeks, making 44 arrests.

In the past three weeks, a Baylor University strength coach and an East Texas Medical Center paramedic were two of the 44 people McLennan County authorities arrested during the 13th National Johns Suppression Initiative.

The county, which participated in the national effort this year for the second time, ranked fourth out of 30 agencies that took part in the effort to combat prostitution and online sex solicitation by targeting sex buyers.

“Ranking fourth in the country, when you have large metropolitan agencies participating, is clear evidence the sex trade in our county is a very prevalent problem,” Detective Joe Scaramucci said.

“The sheriff’s office has made it very clear we will fight this monster. We will continue to address the demand for sex and the people who prey on and exploit these women and children.”

In October, Scaramucci started as a full-time human trafficking investigator, thanks to a Department of Justice grant. Spearheading the local effort in the three-week National Johns Suppression Initiative, Scaramucci used websites to meet with suspects looking for a prostitute.

“This is our seventh sting in the last two years, and we’ve arrested hundreds of these sex offenders and predators, but for whatever reason, they keep coming out of the woodwork,” Sheriff Parnell McNamara said.

Local authorities joined agencies from 15 states in arresting 723 accused sex buyers and 29 accused sex traffickers during the most recent operation.

The Cook County, Illinois, sheriff’s office started coordinating the national suppression initiative in 2011, and it has resulted in more than 6,500 sex-buying or trafficking arrests.

“There is no one demographic for these offenders. They come from all walks of life,” McNamara said. “I cannot tell you how proud I am of detectives and the sheriff’s office for all the work they have done to get these people off our streets.”

McLennan County ranked fourth for total arrests in this go-round, falling behind the Harris County Sheriff’s Office with 178 sex-buyer arrests; the Houston Police Department with 105 sex-buyer arrests and 27 trafficking arrests; and the Cook County, Illinois, sheriff’s office with 101 sex-buyer arrests.

McLennan County tied with the New York City Police Department, each with 44 arrests. McLennan County’s arrests included one person accused of trafficking.

Notable arrests

McLennan County officers arrested David Castillo, 27, in late January when he was employed as an East Texas Medical Center paramedic, Scaramucci said.

Robert Martin, 73, was arrested in February as the oldest accused sex buyer McLennan County detectives have arrested.

Deputies arrested newly hired Baylor strength coach Brandon Washington, 33, on Feb. 6 at a local hotel. Washington was a coach at the time of his arrest and has since been fired.

McNamara said this year’s efforts focused on the demand side of the sex trade, targeting people suspected of attempting to pay for sex. Deputies still made one sex trafficking arrest, he said.

Jarmarl Attwaan Hollman, 31, of Fort Worth, was arrested on an aggravated promotion of prostitution charge, several drug charges and a tampering with evidence charge, Scaramucci said.

Hollman was arrested at a Bellmead hotel Tuesday with several damaged cellphones, drugs and other evidence, suggesting prostitution, he said.

Last year, McLennan County detectives made 55 arrests during the initiative, ranking ninth among 38 participating agencies. Past local efforts ranked above police departments in New York, Las Vegas, Reno, San Diego and Denver, among others.

Kristin Hoppa has been covering public safety and breaking news for the Tribune-Herald since January 2016. She worked in Northwest Missouri covering crime-related issues before her move to Central Texas. She is a University of Kansas graduate.

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