HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Authorities held a press conference today to announce more than 400 arrests as a result of a months' long sting operation dubbed 'Operation Traveling Circus.'
The operation was designed to identify victims of sex trafficking and forced prostitution, arrest the consumer base of 'johns' and weed out traffickers who capitalize on the sex industry in the Houston area.
The Houston Police Department, Harris County Sheriff's Office, Harris County District Attorney's Office and the Houston Chapter of the YMCA addressed the recent joint operation that started January 4.
A so-called 'Wall of Johns' was displayed at the press conference.
The photos were part of an announced policy shift. Authorities said they will not be posting mugshots of those arrested for prostitution because they believe many of them are victims.
One official said at the press conference this morning, "Prostitution is a crime, but it is not victimless. Many are caught in prostitution, known on the streets as 'the game' where their bodies are treated as cash cows by their pimps."
Instead, authorities say they will focus on the 'johns,' those who are funding prostitution, in our area, particularly with some major sports events headed into the Houston area over the next year. Authorities say they do see an increase in prostitution-related crimes during major sporting events, so they're trying to combat those efforts ahead of the events. Authorities say the public can expect many more of these kinds of arrests and operations in the coming months.