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CRAIGSLIST ADS LEAD TO 26 ARRESTS ON PROSTITUTION

BARTOW - A prostitution sting using craigslist advertisements has put the Internet classified ad service back at the center of a criminal investigation in Polk County, Sheriff Grady Judd said Monday.

Sheriff's detectives who responded to craigslist ads arrested 26 women on prostitution charges.

Only four of those arrested were from Polk County. The others came from Tampa, Riverview, Lake Mary, Clearwater, Wesley Chapel, Holiday, West Palm Beach, Ormond Beach, Poinciana and Orlando.

Judd said craigslist could face criminal charges in Polk County.

"What we found is that craigslist, despite saying they're cleaning up their exotic section, in fact continues to facilitate prostitution, and they derive proceeds for prostitution," Judd said. "Currently they charge $10 an ad."

Judd said craigslist encourages organized prostitution around the country by providing an outlet to sell sex services.

A craigslist spokesman did not return phone messages and e-mails seeking comment Monday.

The San Francisco company has been at the center of a national controversy about its erotic services section, promptingit to make changes to how advertisers post.

In an agreement with the attorneys general in 43 states in November, craigslist said it would impose restrictions on its adult services section, CNN reported. But that hasn't ended the problem, Judd said.

Polk sheriff's detectives prowled the personals sections last week for Lakeland, Tampa and Orlando for adult services advertisements, Judd said.

The 26 women are charged with prostitution.

Two of the women were pregnant, sheriff's officials said.

Four men and two women face charges of deriving proceeds from prostitution.

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