Undercover human trafficking, online prostitution sting nets nearly 300 arrests in Polk County, Fla.

Posted at 10:09 AM, Oct 17, 2017

Polk County sheriff's detectives and other law enforcement agencies arrested 277 people after a week-long undercover human trafficking and online prostitution sting.

In two undisclosed locations in Polk County, beginning Oct. 10 through Oct. 16, Polk County Sheriff's undercover detectives, along with detectives and investigators from other law enforcement agencies, conducted the undercover investigation called "Operation No Trick, No Treats". The operation focused on human trafficking and targeted online prostitution.

Fifty-one of the arrests were for those who advertise as prostitutes online. 209 of the arrests were those who solicited undercover detectives who posted ads posing as prostitutes. Seventeen other arrests were made of those who derive proceeds from prostitution, or other offenses.

The undercover operation included detectives and agents from the following agencies: Haines City P.D.; Lakeland P.D.; Lake Wales P.D., and Winter Haven P.D.; working in conjunction with members of the State Attorney's Office.

During the operation, undercover detectives posted fictitious ads or profiles on various social media platforms, websites, and mobile phone applications, posing as prostitutes or those soliciting prostitutes.

Some of the detectives responded to profiles and online ads posted by prostitutes.

"Despite the repeated warnings and media coverage of past operations, numerous suspects responded to the ads and drove to one of the two different undercover locations to engage in illegal prostitution," Polk County Sheriff's office said in a press release.       

"We are committed to fighting human trafficking, by arresting those who engage in prostitution and trying to identify human trafficking victims," said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. " It's no secret..  you need to stay out of Polk County if you're going to commit crime."

Officers said 215 suspects drove to Polk County from various counties across Florida or were visiting Florida from the following states:

  •   Alabama
  • California
  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  •  Missouri
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Tennessee 
  • Texas
  • Virginia