On Jan. 12 and 13, forty-six men were arrested in a massive undercover sex trafficking sting operation in two affluent suburbs of North Texas.
A youth pastor, a high school football coach, a professional hockey player and a director of operations for a large hospital network were among the number of those arrested in upscale hotels in the towns of Frisco and Southlake.
The multiagency operation was dubbed Operation Demand Suppression and was spearheaded by Homeland Security Investigations as part of its Blue Campaign highlighting Human Trafficking Awareness Month, the HSI Dallas office announced in a press release.
On Tuesday, the Frisco Police Department released the names of the 23 men who were arrested in their city.
“By targeting those involved in this crime, we hope to disrupt this activity and provide assistance to human trafficking victims by getting them connected to the advocates and resources they need,” said HSI Special Agent in Charge Lester R. Hayes Jr.
Most of the arrested men were from cities in and around North Texas, but there were a few exceptions. One man was from Aurora, Colorado; while another man was from Broken Bow, Oklahoma; and a third man was from San Gabriel, California, according to police records.
The operation saw law enforcement officers responding to online requests for prostitution, according to Frisco PD. Officers arranged meetings at an upscale hotel in Frisco and another in Southlake. Hotel management and staff were aware of the operation and working in cooperation with officials. Each suspect was arrested upon arrival at locations without incident.
One of the individuals, LeMarcus Strickland of Keller, Texas, was arrested during the operation in Southlake. The 35-year-old was an area director for the nonprofit First Priority of America in Fort Worth, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
The organization provides resources for Christian students to form clubs on public school campuses. Strickland’s information has since been removed from the group’s website.
Another man taken into custody, Cecil Timothy Morrison, a former teacher and assistant football coach at Flower Mound Marcus High School, was also among the men taken into custody. He joined the school district in April 2018, according to The Dallas Morning News, and resigned on Jan. 18.
“Mr. Morrison was placed on administrative leave when the district became aware of his arrest and subsequently submitted his resignation to the district last week,” Lewisville ISD Communications Director Amanda Brim said in a statement, as reported by multiple news outlets. “This is a legal matter outside his role in our district, and we have no indication the circumstances surrounding his arrest involved students.”
Principal Will Skelton sent a message to the families of students at the high school.
“I understand this is difficult news for our students and our school community,” Skelton’s message read. “Our focus will continue to be supporting our students through any impact they may experience due to Coach Morrison’s unexpected departure. I have communicated directly with the football program and families in Coach Morrison’s class to ensure they know we are here to support them.”
Jim Hemmingway, 49, of The Colony, Texas, was another suspect arrested in Frisco. He is the former director of operations at Baylor Scott & White Health in North Texas. He is no longer listed on the website, and a spokesperson for the organization confirmed that he is “no longer an employee.”
Spencer Asuchak, 31, is an Allen Americans hockey player who was also arrested in Frisco. As of Wednesday, Asuchak was still listed on the team roster.
“We are aware of the situation, and we are waiting for more information,” a spokeswoman for the Allen Americans said.
“The victims of these heinous crimes are treated like commodities, used to make as much money as possible, as quickly as possible,” Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn said in a joint release. “Those who traffic victims are the scourge of the earth, and we will continue to target those responsible for the trafficking and those who solicit sex from them.”
The law enforcement agencies that participated in the operation include the Tarrant County Human Trafficking Task Force, Frisco Police Department, Flower Mound Police Department, Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, Collin County Sheriff’s Office, Dallas County District Attorney Investigators, Dallas Police Department, Irving Police Department, Midlothian Police Department, Arlington Police Department and the Colleyville Police Department.
Scroll down to leave a comment and share your thoughts.