WASHINGTON — Thirteen Fort Hood soldiers face solicitation of prostitution charges after they were arrested during a two-day sting operation in locations near the Army post in central Texas, local law enforcement and Army officials said.
The soldiers -- among 20 individuals arrested in the operation -- ranged in rank from private to major and were arrested after agreeing to pay for sex, Maj. T.J. Cruz of the Bell County Sheriff's Office said Thursday. Each soldier has been released on bond, ranging from $1,500 to $2500.
Deputies with the department's Special Crimes Unit placed advertisements offering sexual activity in exchange for money on websites known for prostitution solicitation, Cruz said. Suspects agreed, typically through text messages, to prices ranging from about $60 to $200 depending on what activity and amount of time they sought, Lt. Michele Cianci, director of the Special Crimes Unit, told the Killeen Daily Herald.
The suspects were greeted by an undercover female deputy posing as a prostitute at hotels in Killeen and Salado and immediately taken into custody, Cruz said.
"The purpose of the operation is to crack down on sex trafficking and to identify and arrest individuals seeking sexual acts in exchange for an agreed upon fee in Bell County," Cruz said. "Our goal is to focus our efforts on sex buyers who are seeking to take advantage of sex trafficking victims, we are putting these predators on notice that our Bell County community will not tolerate their behavior."
Fort Hood officials said they were aware of the arrests and were cooperating with law enforcement but declined further comment.
Solicitation of prostitution is a misdemeanor with a punishment ranging from a fine to jail time, but the soldiers could face additional punishment or adverse impacts on their military career. Pandering and prostitution is a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Servicemembers found guilty at court-martial face a maximum penalty that includes a dishonorable discharge and a year of confinement.
The soldiers arrested in the sting were identified by the Bell County Sheriff's Department and the Army as:
- Sgt. Carlos Castillo, 33, of Fort Hood, Texas
- Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ernest Grant, 39, of Killeen, Texas
- Staff Sgt. Natalion Seymour, 38, of Salado, Texas
- Staff Sgt. Kendrick Davis, 28, of Copperas Cove, Texas
- Master Sgt. Stanley Ervin, 41, of Killeen, Texas
- Pvt. Xavier Horne, 22, of Fort Hood, Texas
- Warrant Officer 1 Gregory Hughes, 34, of Copperas Cove, Texas
- Maj. Donta White, 35, of Harker Heights, Texas
- Spc. Jimmie Joiner, 23, of Lorena, Texas
- Pfc. Adrian Upshaw, 22, of Killeen, Texas
- Sgt. Michael Culpepper, 36, of Killeen, Texas
- Joseph Bartolomei, 44, of Killeen, Texas
- Dontae Johnson, 35, of Nolanvile, Texas