POLK COUNTY, Fla. (970 WFLA) – Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested 98 people during four-day-long undercover prostitution investigation targeting human trafficking, sheriff’s officials said in a news release Tuesday.
“Prostitution is not a victimless crime. We have found a direct nexus between prostitution and human trafficking – forcing a juvenile to commit lewd acts with adult men for financial gain is something we will not tolerate. One of our best tools to find, arrest, and prosecute traffickers is to conduct undercover prostitution investigations. Whether it is on the street or online, prostitution, and the crimes it attempts to disguise, is illegal and we will continue to investigate and arrest those involved.” Sheriff Grady Judd said in the release.
Deputies say at the end of the investigation, which targeted online e-commerce sites related to men and women who were advertising to commit prostitution and who were soliciting others for prostitution, 98 suspects were arrested.
According to PCSO, their charges ranged from Offering to Commit Lewdness in which the suspects either posted online ads, or answered online ads; to Aiding and Abetting Prostitution; Deriving Proceeds from Prostitution; Possession of Illegal Drugs; Child Abuse by Neglect; Felony Battery; Resisting; Traffic Offenses; and Violation of Probation.
PCSO said of the 98 suspects arrested:
-24 were married
-15 are on public assistance
-16 suspects were arrested when they brought prostitutes to the undercover location;
-28 suspects arrested were prostitutes;
-52 suspects arrested were “johns” or those who wished to pay for sex from prostitutes.
-2 other suspects were charged with other crimes, one was charged with Possession of Marijuana and Drug Paraphernalia, and the second was charged with No Valid DL and VOP.
-And 64 of those arrested have been arrested over 448 times before.
Out of the 28 prostitutes arrested, deputies said 20 had criminal records that included 233 arrests comprising 112 felonies and 165 misdemeanors. Of the 16 people who brought prostitutes to the undercover location, deputies said 15 had criminal records that included 92 total arrests comprising 72 felonies and 67 misdemeanors.
Photo Credit Polk County Sheriff's Office