October 28, 2021
BARTOW, Fla. (AP) — More than 100 people have been arrested in a Florida human trafficking investigation that focused on victims who might be forced into prostitution, a sheriff said Thursday.
The arrests were the culmination of a six-day undercover operation that involved several law enforcement agencies, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a news conference.
Those arrested were charged with a total of 29 felonies and 143 misdemeanors, including solicitation of prostitution and offering to commit prostitution, Judd said. Many had criminal histories that include charges for kidnapping, robbery, aggravated battery, and sex offenses.
Two men are charged with attempting to arrange sex with minors online, the sheriff added. The “minors” were actually undercover law enforcement officers.
“The primary purpose for these operations is to identify victims of human trafficking and those who prey on the victims, as well as the deviant child predators who stalk children online,” Judd said.
The operation used internet ads to arrange meetings between undercover detectives and suspects at a specific location in Polk County.