Eleven West Texas agencies teamed up during a 15-day prostitution sting operation to arrest 62 people.
Operation Gauntlet was the work of The Odessa and Midland Police departments, the Midland County Sheriff’s Office, Department of Public Safety, Midland Fire Department, Andrews and Abilene police, the FBI and the U.S. Marshalls Office.
During the 15 days, the agencies were able to catch 63 predators, 62 of whom have been arrested and one outstanding warrant.
“They violate our children, they take advantage of them,” DPS captain Ramos said. “And not only do they do it once, but they repeat and they repeat it and then they get more people to repeat the same and next thing you know more people are paying to do the same to this child.”
The first phase of the operation was for child predators and lasted from February 16 to February 17.
During those two days, undercover “chatters” posted ads on popular online classified websites and made undercover calls and messages posing as a 13-year-old girl.
They responded to 6,095 incoming messages from 330 unique phone numbers and resulted in the arrest of seven for solicitation of a minor under the age of 14.
“In days of old, you would set up stings on the street, that just doesn’t work anymore. To get the real players in this you’ll have to set up those online stings,” said Odessa Police Chief Mike Gerke.
Sebastian Zapata, 22, Eduardo Galvan, 25, Randall Sparkman, 40, Alex Olivas, 48, Seth Patin, 30, David Williams, 43, and Wesley Nickell, 57, were all put behind bars as a result.
Phase two consisted of a four-day operation from Feb. 21 until the 24. During that time undercover “chatters” posted ads online posing as a 16 and a 19-year-old woman.
They responded to 5,200 incoming messages from 756 unique phones. This resulted in the arrest of 26 arrests for prostitution and prostitution solicitation of a person under 18.
Robert Loysoya, 59, Johnny Bryant, 31, Cody Pendergrass, 31, Jonathon Kirkman, 46, German Ortega-Ortega, 30, Omar Reyna, 43, Eduardo Ibanez, 31, Sterling Fincher, 26, Nikolos Robinson, 37, Raefael Hernandez, 43, Stephan Punch, 51, Ariel Portillo, 25, Fabian Hernandez, 34, Aram Barrios-Hernandez, 42, Oludayo Olanyinka, 37, Jared Cunnigham, 34, Bill Oneal, 45, Jason Page, 44, Daniel Okunola, 39, Brandon Moore, 31, Aaron Mata, 26, Raymundo Gonzalez, 43, Luis Casas Jr, 25, Timothy Hicks, 45, Kurtis Shaw, 18, Stanley Daniel, 21, Alfredo Garcia, 25, Eric Gesch, 43, Christian Love, 21, Alex Brito, 27 and Peyton Coffman, 24, were all arrested.
During phase three, the undercover chatters posted from Feb. 28 until March 3 as human trafficking victims and a 16-year-old girl.
The third phase resulted in 1034 incoming messages and 23 arrests.
Patricia Chapman, 46, Ashley Hernandez, 24, Kami Martinez, 19, Alexus Phillips, 22, Kalleigh Tyler, 25, Dwight Thomas, 28, Keith Davidson, 48, Hamza Kechah, 38, Ahlieya Caudillo, 19, Adrianna Alcorta, 22, Jasmine Miles, 18, Toshonda Caraway, 22, Tara Runels, 24, Desirey Carrizales, 22, Young Yu, 49, Rachel Tate, 31, Ding Bing, 52, Lloyd David, 28 and Lee Hunsun, 67, are in jail as a result of phase three.
Captain Ramos said they are committed to fighting criminals in our own backyard.
“The people of the state of Texas, of the Permian Basin and the surrounding communities, we’ve heard you and we hear you,” Ramos said. “We’ve stepped up efforts to combat human trafficking. As a result, you got the numbers — as a result, you’ll be able to view what I refer to as the wall of shame.”
Of the 62 people arrested, authorities say 55 were in Odessa and seven were in Midland.
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