Polk detectives arrest 103 in operation targeting online ads for prostitution

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Published Dec. 3, 2018

The Polk County Sheriff's Office said it arrested more than 100 suspects in a sting operation targeting online advertisements involving prostitution.

In a six-day operation, from Tuesday through Sunday, detectives conducted investigations focused on prostitutes posting advertisements as well as "johns" seeking female prostitutes, the Sheriff's Office said.

Undercover detectives posted fictitious ads or profiles on social media platforms, websites, and mobile phone applications, posing as prostitutes or people soliciting prostitutes. Some of the detectives responded to profiles and online ads posted by prostitutes.

All told, 103 arrests were made in the human trafficking operation.

Fifty-six arrests involved people who advertise as prostitutes online, 30 involved people who solicited undercover detectives posing as prostitutes online, 11 involved people who derive proceeds from prostitution, and six people were taken into custody for drug charges and other offenses, the Sheriff's Office said.

Charges include soliciting another for prostitution, deriving support from proceeds of prostitution, transporting to building for prostitution and using a communication device to commit a felony.

Detectives worked closely during the operation with the state Department of Children and Families and with the One More Child program of the Florida Baptist Children's Homes, according to the Sheriff's Office.