Anti-human trafficking unit in McLennan County arrests 12 during latest sting
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - The McLennan County Sheriff’s Office’s Human Trafficking Unit arrested 12 individuals during a sting operation targeting human trafficking which ended Saturday.
“What a sick bunch of idiots to try something like this,” McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara told KWTX.
Some of the suspects were reportedly looking to pay for sex, including three who allegedly solicited from a minor. Five other individuals were allegedly in possession of child pornography.
“They’re trading this child pornography back and forth, and these people are really sick,” said McNamara in a press conference Wednesday.
The sheriff’s office said two of the child pornography cases were initiated following an investigation into Leonard Newman, who remains in the McLennan County Jail on a charge of continuous trafficking of persons.
“Those are five people that are involved in his case, and they will be arrested shortly, so we have five more involved in the distribution of child pornography,” McNamara adds.
The operation was conducted from Sept. 26 to Oct. 1.
“This effort is actually nationwide, but its concentrated here in McLennan County for sure,” said McNamara.
However, the county’s ‘concentrated efforts’ appear to be working, according to McNamara and his team who say the fact that most of this group is from out of the area is very telling.
“That’s kind of what it’s telling us: the message is getting out that McLennan County is not a really good place to be doing this,” said McNamara. “And these passers through, or whatever they are, just go online and may not have heard of McLennan County or this effort here....it’s like a drag net, we’re going to snag ‘em and they’re going to jail, and they’re going to be charged.”
The other suspects arrested arrested are:
- Leslie Freeman, of Fairfield, charged with continuous trafficking of persons
- Gregory Lechuga, charged with solicitation of prostitution of a minor
- Omar Duarte, charged with solicitation of prostitution of a minor
- Cory Zimmerman, charged with solicitation of prostitution of a minor
- Kameron Pillow, charged with solicitation of prostitution
- Cesar Carillo, charged with solicitation of prostitution
- Zahion Poe, charged with solicitation of prostitution
- Brian Taylor, charged with solicitation of prostitution
- Francisco Mauricio-Medina, charged with solicitation of prostitution
- Timothy McNeil, charged with solicitation of prostitution
- David Rhone, charged with solicitation of prostitution.
“These people need to be exposed for what they are,” said McNamara. “The public needs to see this because they may see something that triggers their mind that this is probably human trafficking and they can call us.”
“The public needs to be aware that this is so prevalent out there--it’s everywhere,” he said.
COPYRIGHT 2022. KWTX TV. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.