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FLORIDA: Human Trafficking Sting Leads to Arrest of Over 200 Suspects


The Polk County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday a human trafficking bust that rescued 24 possible human trafficking victims.

The weeklong undercover operation, which began February 6th, led to over 200 arrests.

“213 suspects arrested during ‘Operation Traffic Stop,’ cracking down on human trafficking; we identified 24 potential HT victims,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.

“Not only did we arrest more suspects during this single operation than we have ever arrested before, we identified 24 human trafficking victims – the highest number of victims we’ve ever rescued during one of these investigations. The valuable relationships that we have with the social services organizations who join us in these operations make it possible for these women to get help and be emancipated from this way of life,” Judd commented.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office issued this press release:

During a seven-day undercover human trafficking operation, “Operation Traffic Stop,” which began on Monday, February 6, 2023, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Vice Unit arrested 213 suspects. Detectives from the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office, Auburndale PD, Winter Haven PD, Haines City PD, Lake Wales PD, Lakeland PD, Davenport PD, and Bartow PD, as well as from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, assisted with the investigation. The Office of the State Attorney 10th Judicial Circuit, State Attorney Brian Haas, members from the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), and social services organizations One More Child; Heartland for Children; My Name My Voice; Selah Freedom; and the Children’s Home Society Child Advocacy Center, were also on-hand.

Those who travelled to provide prostitution services were screened by detectives and the social services organizations to determine if they were being trafficked or exploited by others, and were offered services by the social services organizations at the operation. During this investigation, 24 possible human trafficking victims were identified of the 111 prostitutes who were arrested.

89 suspects were arrested for soliciting a prostitute and traveling to the undercover location to negotiate having sex in exchange for money. 13 other suspects were arrested, and of those, 10 were either deriving proceeds from prostitution or aiding and abetting prostitutes.

“14 of the arrested are suspected of being in the country illegally (13 from Cuba and one from Mexico), and six of the 14 were identified as victims of human trafficking,” the press release stated.

“22 suspects told detectives they receive government assistance.”

“Detectives seized fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana, from those arrested during the operation,” the press release added.

Watch the press conference below:


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