Maj. T.J. Cruz, spokesperson for the Bell County Sheriff's Department, told Military.com that the pair, identified as Spc. David Kulhanek and Spc. Myles Broadnax, were caught up in the operation after they responded to an online advertisement.
They were immediately arrested after arriving at a local motel in the city of Killeen. However, it is unclear if the pair arrived at the establishment together or at separate times. Kulhanek and Broadnax were subsequently charged with soliciting prostitution services. They were both released from police custody after posting bail.
According to Military.com, Kulhanek is an indirect fire infantryman with 3rd Cavalry Regiment, and Broadnax is a cable systems installer and maintainer with the 11th Signal Brigade.
However, the duo weren't the only individuals with ties to the military that were rounded up in the sting operation. Law enforcement officials also got ahold of Christopher Shaw, a retired servicemember who hailed from nearby Copperas Cove, the Temple Daily Telegram reported.
Others arrested as a result of the operation include Bobby Boaldin, a local pastor with the Goldthwaite Church of Christ; Gabriel Gomez, an immigration detainer; and local motel owner Roshana Bhakta. In total, 15 individuals were arrested, with charges ranging between human trafficking, promoting prostitution by delivering women and buying prostitution services.
A total of nine women between the ages of 18 and 25 were rescued, one of whom was pregnant at the time. According to the Telegram, the women were later directed to officials from support groups Unbound and Refugee Services of Texas.
"It's not their fault," Susan Peters, national director for Unbound, told the Telegram. "They are being manipulated and get caught up in [sex trafficking]."
"There is a way out," she added.
Bell County Sheriff Eddy Lange said at a Tuesday press conference that the latest effort to combat prostitution rings in the region was "making a dent in human trafficking." He added that a future operation will focus on targeting child molesters.
In 2017, the Special Crimes Unit of the Bell County Sheriff's Department and the McLennan County Sheriff's Department joined forces to execute a sting operation in Bell County. In that operation, a total of 20 men were arrested, 13 of whom were active-duty soldiers from Fort Hood.