Lake Worth

42 Arrested in Two Days After Lake Worth Solicitation of Prostitution Sting

"Operation April Fools" led to the arrest of 41 men and one woman

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42 people were arrested by Lake Worth Police over the course of two days during a counter-human trafficking operation officials called “Operation April Fools."

The arrests occurred between April 11 and 12, according to Lake Worth police.

At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Lake Worth police chief J.T. Manoushagian said the joint operation included his agency and the HSI Dallas, targeting suspects trying to engage in prostitution in Lake Worth.

Chief Manoushagian said as part of the operation, undercover police officers posed as escorts and prostitutes. When people who responded arrived in person to meet up, they were arrested.

The 42 arrested include 41 men and one woman. None of the suspects are residents of Lake Worth, said Chief Manoushagian.

“There were some people arrested who, this was their first arrest. Had no criminal history prior to showing up. Then there were some others who had pages of criminal history. It really does impact people from all walks of life,” Manoushagian said.

Manoushagian added, people often question whether a city has a “human trafficking problem” after operations like these are publicly discussed. In Lake Worth, he said, “The short answer is ‘no’, but it’s more complicated than that.”

"Human trafficking is a problem everywhere, whether we can see it or not, and given our close proximity to the border here in Texas it is a bigger problem here than elsewhere in the country," he said. “A lot of those people crossing the border have to pay a debt. They had to pay someone to get across. Human trafficking is one way traffickers collect that debt. They, in essence, sell people into slavery to pay back. What it costs to get them across the border. We realize that. We believe those people are victims.”

The 42 arrested face charges of solicitation of prostitution, which is a state jail felony. The charge carries a maximum penalty of up to two years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

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