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154 suspects arrested in Polk undercover operation targeting prostitution, human trafficking

Posted: 11:02 AM, May 21, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-21 11:43:01-04
Sheriff Grady Judd

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — 154 suspects were arrested in Polk County during a six-day undercover operation targeting prostitution and human trafficking.

The operation, dubbed 'Operation No Spring Fling,' was completed on Sunday, May 19.

Detectives posted and responded to ads soliciting prostitution, attempting to identify victims of human trafficking in prostitution.

Two females were identified as likely to be victims of human trafficking, one of which was underage. A 17-year-old boy is also considered a victim of human trafficking in the case.

All three have been offered services with the One More Child organization, and DCF is also involved.

Lakeland PD, Winter Haven PD and Haines City PD were also in on the investigation.

"The primary goal in operations like this is to find victims of human trafficking who are being manipulated into prostitution," Sheriff Grady Judd said. "Prostitution is also a public safety issue involving the spread of diseases, the use of and dealing in illegal drugs, and other criminal activity that is associated with prostitution. It should be well-known by now that Polk County is not a good place to be involved with prostitution, thanks to operations such as this."

The suspects arrested ranged in age between 17 and 69 years old.

Of the 154 suspects arrested, PCSO provided the following statistics:

  • 69 were prostitutes
  • 75 were "johns," or those who solicited to pay for prostitution
  • 8 others were arrested for related charges, such as deriving proceeds from prostitution
  • 2 were arrested for traveling to meet a minor
  • 30 are married
  • 8 were on public assistance
  • 5 are in the country illegally

In all, detectives filed 46 felony charges and 202 misdemeanor charges against the suspects. Among the 154 suspects, there were a total of 567 previous felonies and 695 previous misdemeanor charges in their criminal histories.