LAKELAND, Fla. (FOX 13) - Deputies say a weeklong investigation led to the arrest of 154 people on sex-related charges, including human trafficking.
Polk County detectives said they just wrapped up “Operation No Spring Fling.” The charges include soliciting prostitution, traveling to meet a minor for sex, procuring prostitution and child pornography. Detectives also identified and aided potential victims of human trafficking.
The suspects ranged in ages between 17 and 69. They said two suspects were traveling to have sex with someone they believed was a 14-year-old boy. Among those arrested:
- 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
Detectives said they filed 46 felony charges and 202 misdemeanor against the suspects. Among the suspects, there were a total of 567 previous felonies and 695 previous misdemeanor charges in their criminal histories.
Detectives also identified and aided potential victims of human trafficking. One was a 17-year-old and another was a 23-year-old. Both has criminal charges. In another case, a 17-year-old boy traveled to the undercover location but was considered to be a human traffickig victim. All three have been offered services and the Florida Department of Children and Families is also involved.
Detectives with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office worked with police departments in Lakeland, Winter Haven and Haines City during the investigation.
"The primary goal in operations like this is to find victims of human trafficking who are being manipulated into prostitution,” said Sheriff Grady Judd in a statement. “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."