Seven Arrested In Prostitution, Drug Sting

Prostitutes have been working out of an East Texas rest stop.

Those are the findings of a 4-month undercover operation by the Smith County Sheriff's Department. The information prompted a sting operation at a truck rest stop along I-20 at the F.M. 757 exit.

So far, it's led to seven arrests.

Three women are charged with prostitution. They are from Longview, Kilgore, and Frankston. One woman faces a drug charge and another is charged with evading arrest.

One man from Flint is also charged with prostitution. He's accused of being one of the women's driver.

Authorities say three men are truck drivers. Two from Florida are charged with solicitation of a prostitute. A third, from Missouri, is charged with drug possession and delivery.

The Sheriff's Department has received complaints from truck drivers, saying prostitutes were banging on their doors, while they were asleep. Drivers say they've been approached at all hours of the day.

"I just stopped here once and one came up and knocked on the door," Joe Mack, a truck driver from Mississippi, said. "And I told them, hey, if you ain't got a key, you ain't got no business knocking on that door, and that's it."

"Twenty years ago, when I first started driving, it was like $5 or $10," Randy Welch, another truck driver, said. "Now it's $80 and $100 and $120. They're making good money and they're coming out here steadily doing it."

"We're going to continue to follow this," Major Mike Lusk, of the Smith County Sheriff's Department, said. "And we will have undercover personnel out there periodically. We're not just going to stop."

The sting operation involved 49 officers from seven different area agencies.

Julie Tam, reporting.