A man looking for sex online was instead met by an “ugly undercover detective in a red wig,” police said.
The Wharton Police Department, based in Texas, shared a snap of the officer sporting a fetching auburn hairstyle to their Facebook page.
The post, shared on Friday, said: “When you solicit for what many believe to be a paid sexual encounter online, it will make its way to us. And, when that happens, you may get an ugly ‘undercover’ detective in a red wig knocking on your door instead.
“This person was identified, educated and released, hence why we’re concealing his face. Don’t put yourself in a position that can bring detectives to your door, wigged or not.”
They also included excerpts of messages, with some information redacted, with one message reading: “I’m at the [redacted] room 2 [redacted] hit me up I’m single got cash n lonely.”
A second message reads: “Ok ladies I’m [redacted] attractive educated fun in Worton tx fun loving n I love [redacted].”
Commenting on the post, which was liked more than 350 times and can be seen here, Krystle Evans-Lindsey pointed out: “He said he in worton, tx.”
To which the Wharton Police Department replied: “That should be an offense itself.”
Dags Charlet said: “Omg I can imagine my brother laughing at the red wig! He would have loved this!! I vote to put a red wig on stick man!!!”
J LeTrise Young commented: “The cop though! Full beard black and red wig… lmbo.”
Susie Fuentes wrote: “The detective with the red wig doesn’t even look like a women that’s funny. I bet he will think twice before he’s lonely again.”
While Anna Kathleen said: “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH OMG Logan Shelton stoppp he showed up in a wig.”
Robert Ging asked: “Can the detective deliver a pizza at the same time? Asking for a friend.”
And Justin Chapman wrote: “WHO IS THE DETECTIVE WITH THE WIG OH MY GOD.” To which Wharton Police Department replied: “Let’s just say, he wouldn’t be successful as a real undercover prostitute.”
The officer in the wig was later identified as Sergeant Ariel Soltura, who told Newsweek: “Our department often uses humor to highlight important issues that would often be overlooked, and as such, we showed up with a red wig to make the encounter even more ‘memorable’ for him.
“In doing so, this caused many to take note of the seriousness of the alleged offense by sharing the post on social media, hopefully deterring others from engaging in similar actions within our city, and throughout.
“Additionally, it let would-be criminals know that the Wharton Police Department is always watching and that we will show up at your door should we believe that your intent is to break the laws set forth by our city ordinances, or state laws.”
Texas became the first state to make “solicitation of prostitution” a felony offense, with harsher punishments for anyone falling foul of the law.
The bill, HB1540, came into force in September 2021, and is titled: “Relating to regulation of certain facilities and establishments with respect to, civil remedies for certain criminal activities affecting, and certain criminal offenses involving health, safety, and welfare; creating a criminal offense; increasing criminal penalties.”
According to section 43.021 of the bill, the crime is defined as: “A person commits an offense if the person knowingly offers or agrees to pay a fee to another person for the purpose of engaging in sexual conduct with that person or another.”
Punishment now is a state jail felony, regardless of whether it’s a first offense.
Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a statement relating to the bill, saying: “Texas is the first in the country to punish sex buyers with felonies, which is a substantial step towards curbing the demand for commercial sex.
“Human trafficking is modern day slavery—targeting vulnerable men, women and children in our communities. I commend our legislature for passing laws that fight this inexcusable offense.”
Update 2/14/22, 10:15 a.m. ET: This article was updated with comment from Ariel Soltura.