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September 28, 2012San Antonio, TX, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

64 arrested in San Antonio for soliciting prostitution in Operation 'Polar Bexar'

SAN ANTONIO — The arrest of 64 men and women for solicitation of prostitution was announced Friday by the Bexar County Sheriff's Office (BCSO), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the San Antonio Police Department.

"Operation Polar Bexar" was a nine-hour operation that took place Sept. 21. The operation was a proactive human trafficking enforcement action focusing on the demand for prostitution. The 64 arrested were charged with soliciting a prostitute. In addition to this state charge, 17 from Mexico and Honduras also face federal administrative charges for being in the country illegally. Once their state case is fully adjudicated, each will be turned over to ICE and placed in removal proceedings.

According to Bexar County Sheriff Amador Ortiz, a team of detectives posed as prostitutes. Those arrested showed up on foot, on bicycles and in personal and company-owned vehicles offering to pay for various forms of sexual encounters. Once a deal was made, they were immediately arrested upon entering a local hotel room.

"Today we want to send a message that this behavior will not be tolerated in our communities," said Sheriff Ortiz. "Local authorities will go after you and bring you to justice."

"HSI was proud to support the Bexar County Sheriff in this operation. Thanks to the hard work of law enforcement, 64 individuals were taken off the streets," said Jerry Robinette, special agent in charge of HSI San Antonio. "HSI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who commit this crime are held accountable for their actions."

The Bexar County District Attorney's Office is prosecuting these cases.

If you notice suspicious activity in your community, call ICE's Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or complete its online tip form.