At least 250 sex buyers and traffickers were arrested in Houston as part of a national initiative aimed at suppressing prostitution. Law enforcement agencies made more than 1000 arrests countrywide as part of the “National Johns Suppression Initiative” according to Cook County sheriff’s office press release. “I’m very proud of our work, but concerned by the fact that demand hasn’t declined,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said. The operation ran from June 28, July 31 and spanned 17 states, according to Cook County sheriff’s office. Houston area law enforcement arrested 249 sex buyers and 9 traffickers. The initiative aims to target those demanding prostitution and treat prostitutes as victims. Last year, approximately 1’400 sellers of sex were prosecuted, according to DA’s office. Only 700 buyers were prosecuted. This year fewer sellers than buyers have been prosecuted. “The motivation is to attempt to go higher in the chain [rather than target the prostitutes, to get the traffickers themselves” Nathan Beedle, DA’s misdemeanor division chief said. Gonzalez told he is eager to shed the area’s reputation as “America’s sex trafficking capital.” “By focusing our efforts on sex buyers who are seeking to take advantage of sex trafficking victims, we are putting these predators on notice that our community won’t tolerate their behavior” he told. Soliciting prostitution is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and it carries a $2000 fine. 8 different hotel operators aided in the Houston area sting operation. A convicted sex offender and 2 armed suspects were among those arrested. A local pastor and state trooper were also arrested. Phoenix police department rescued a 16 years old girl and charged the customer with child prostitution.