A former Belton police officer and three active-duty soldiers from Fort Hood were charged Wednesday along with six other suspects over their September involvement in a prostitution and sex trafficking sting.
All of the suspects were each indicted this week by a grand jury with solicitation of prostitution, a state prison felony that was previously classified as a misdemeanor until the law was changed in September.
Mark Williams, 58, a former police officer from Belton, and active duty soldiers Christopher Knox, 40, of Jarrell, Marc Sanon, 34, of Killeen, and James Gradys, 24, of Fort Hood, were arrested with Billy Williams, 37. , from Spring, Eric Kilton, 45, from Killeen, Brian Turner, 64, from Killeen, Francisco Tamez, 38, from Temple, Shane Pagel, 39, from Harker Heights and Michael Morris, 53, from Salado, the sheriff’s department said.
Belton spokesperson Paul Romer previously told the Telegram that Williams had not worked at Belton for more than 20 years.
The Bell County Sheriff’s Department said the arrests took place during a two-day operation in coordination with Fort Hood law enforcement and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
According to a press release, all suspects were arrested when a female deputy was staged at a location during the attack called the John Suppression Initiative Operation.
“The purpose of the operation is to crack down on sex trafficking and to identify / arrest those seeking sex in return for a fee in Bell County,” the sheriff’s department said in the press release. “The operation was carried out in the Temple-Killeen area of Bell County.”
As part of the sting, authorities have placed advertisements online to attract those who wish to purchase sexual services.
“The focus of the operation was on people alias ‘Johns’ responding to advertisements; ultimately attacking the demand side of prostitution, ”the sheriff’s department said. “If there is no demand, there is no need for service.”