Polk Co. undercover detectives arrest 104 in 'Operation March Sadness' prostitution sting

Detectives worked with Office of State Attorney

POLK COUNTY, Fla. - An Air Force captain with top secret clearance may have some explaining to do after Polk County investigators arrested him in a sex sting.

Detectives with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said Dirk Watson traveled from Merritt Island all the way to Polk County to have sex with who he thought was a 14-year-old girl.

It was actually an undercover detective.

Watson is among more than 100 people investigators rounded up in the county’s latest sting operation targeting prostitution and human trafficking.

“These folks learned a new lesson on the basketball court of life,” said Sheriff Grady Judd, gesturing to the oversized poster of all the Johns and prostitutes they caught.

Judd — who appeared to be in the college basketball mood — called the six day long operation March Sadness.

He said Watson was supposed to be spending the weekend at Disney with his family, but stayed behind because he felt sick.

“He had horrible, graphic communications online with an undercover detective who clearly indicated that she was only 14 years of age,” Judd said.

One piece of positive news from all the prostitution stings held in Polk County is the sheriff said the site Backpage.com seems to be making progress in filtering out ads for prostitution. If users put in certain words, the ads are automatically deleted.

But if you read between the lines, you can still find them.

“I would tell Backpage thank you very much for the steps and efforts you have made, but it’s not enough. You need to go further,” Judd said.

The countless sex stings may also be paying off in the county. Investigators said for every 10 calls they received, only one showed up after hearing the words “Polk County”.

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