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Dozens arrested in multiple agency prostitution sting, officials say

During the operation, investigators identified more than 299 people across the region who were seeking prostitutes, some involving children, officials say.

SAN ANTONIO — Kerr County Sherriff's deputies arrested 20 people Friday for trying to solicit prostitutes and commit sex crimes against children. 

Most of the 20 have bonded out of prison, but all men face felony charges under a new state law that aims to punish 'johns.'

"You just don't realize how far down the well can go and how dark it really can get," KCSO criminal investigator Jonathan Edwards told KENS 5. "We'll all kind of just scratch our heads and think, 'What led you to do this? How did it get this bad?'"

Some of the men sought to purchase children. Deputies busted one man with a trunk-full of camera equipment, presumably to film child pornography. 

Others were arrested with Methamphetamines. Many had weapons for reasons police still don't understand.

Edwards says investigators placed phony escort ads on popular online marketplace sites. In just three days, 299 people from around South Texas indicated interest in a prostitute. 

Most of those people did not go far enough to be arrested, but they've been identified and are in a statewide database.

"We'll be following up with them and, eventually, we'll meet someday," Edwards said. 

The following information from officials name the suspects arrested in the sting and their charges:

  • Sheridan Lance Rippy, 66, of Kerrville, on one count of Solicitation of Prostitution. Rippy was booked into the Kerr County Jail on a $5,000 bond.
  • Kenneth Wayne Hatcher, 58, of Kerrville, on one count of Solicitation of Prostitution. Hatcher was booked into the Kerr County Jail on a $5,000 bond.
  • Donald Eugene Kampfhenkel, 66, of Kerrville, on one count of Solicitation of Prostitution, and one count of Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon. Kampfhenkel was booked into the Kerr County Jail. Bond has not been set.
  • Oscar Leonides Herrera, 38, of Kerrville, on one count of Solicitation of Prostitution. Herrera was booked into the Kerr County Jail. Bond has not been set.
  • Chad Frederick Shannon, 37, of Bryan, on one count of Solicitation of Prostitution. Shannon was booked into the Kerr County Jail. Bond has not been set.
  • Joel Morin, Jr., 41, of San Antonio, on one count of Solicitation of Prostitution. Morin was booked into the Kerr County Jail. Bond has not been set.
  • Jimmie Alcorta, Jr., 50, of Kerrville, on one count of Solicitation of Prostitution. Alcorta was booked into the Kerr County Jail on a $5,000 bond. 
  • Matthew Ryan Carr, 38, of Fredericksburg, on one count of Solicitation of Prostitution. Carr was booked into the Kerr County Jail on a $5,000 bond.
  • Octavio Rico Viramontes, 38, of San Antonio, on one count of Solicitation of Prostitution, and one count of Possession of a Controlled Substance,  PG1, (Methamphetamine) >4<200G . Viramontes was booked into the Kerr County Jail on a $27,500 bond.
  • Steven Ray King, 61, of Boerne, on one count of Solicitation of Prostitution. King was booked into the Kerr County Jail on a $7,500 bond. 
  • Christopher Scott Jony, 52, of La Vernia, on one count of Solicitation of Prostitution. Jony was booked into the Kerr County Jail on a $7,500 bond. 
  • Christopher Daniel Berry, 37, of Stockdale, on one count of Solicitation of Prostitution, one count of  Manufacture/Delivery of a Controlled Substance, PG 1 (Methamphetamine) >4<200G, one count of Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon, and Possession of Marijuana less than two ounces. Berry was booked into the Kerr County Jail. Bond has not been set.
  • Nicholas Silva, 41, of San Antonio, on one count of Solicitation of Prostitution, one count of Online Solicitation of a Minor. Silva was booked into the Kerr County Jail. Bond has not been set. 
  • Sam Junior Son, 41, of San Antonio, on one count of Solicitation of Prostitution, one count of Online Solicitation of a Minor. Son was booked into the Kerr County Jail. Bond has not been set.
  • Emmett Logan Brown, 41, of San Antonio, on one count of Solicitation of Prostitution. Brown was booked into the Kerr County Jail on a $7,500 bond.
  • Alan Anthony Martin, 59, of Spring Branch, on one count of Solicitation of Prostitution. Martin was booked into the Kerr County Jail on a $7,500 bond. 
  • William Franklin Gadberry, 43, of New Braunfels, on one count of Solicitation of Prostitution. Gadberry was booked into the Kerr County Jail on a $7,500 bond.
  • Bao V Tran, 31, of San Antonio, on one count of Solicitation of Prostitution. Tran was booked into the Kerr County Jail on a $7,500 bond.
  • Christopher Daniel Walker, 41, of San Antonio, on one count of Solicitation of Prostitution. Walker was booked into the Kerr County Jail on a $7,500 bond.
  • Paz Joaquin Martinez, 44,of San Antonio, on one count of Solicitation of Prostitution, and one count of Manufacture/Delivery of a Controlled Substance, PG 1 (Methamphetamine) <1g. Martinez was booked into the Kerr County Jail on a $15,000 bond. 

"Among the twenty, we captured some that do this two or three times a week," Edwards said. "That's just fueling the profit margins of the people that are doing these horrible things." 

Edwards said it doesn't appear the twenty men are connected. There is no evidence they were a part of a larger ring. 

“This operation represents a big win for the safety of our community, in Kerr County and the region,” said Sheriff Larry Leitha. “Once again, our Criminal Investigation Division led a strong effort with invaluable support from our interagency partners.” 

Investigators say additional charges could be added as the investigation continues.

Officials said Participating in the undercover operation were officers and assets from the Kerr County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Division and Special Operations Division, in conjunction with the Kerrville Police Department, Bexar County Sheriff's Office Organized Crime Unit, Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigations Division, and the Texas Department of Public Safety Intelligence and Counter Terrorism Division.  

“As evidenced through interviews and contraband seized in this operation, prostitution is part of a larger picture of criminal activity, including the drug trade and child victimization. Human smuggling, sex trafficking, and prostitution are crimes that support each other, and we’re working hard on all fronts to stop them,” said Leitha.