ORLANDO, Fla. - Twenty-one alleged prostitutes, pimps and customers were arrested in Orange County in a special Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation operation.
Sheriff’s deputies and Orlando police worked with undercover MBI agents in what they called “Operation Afternoon Delight.”
Investigators said the operation is part of an ongoing effort to keep tourist areas on International Drive family-friendly.
“Tourists here in central Florida are safer here than anywhere else in the world,” said Lt. Mike Gibson, with the MBI.
Gibson oversaw the sex sting.
He said law enforcement has made a direct link between prostitution and tourists falling victim to other crime.
“We find these pimps that drop the prostitutes off. Once they drop [the prostitutes off] off for a couple hours while they do their business, they look for crime of opportunity,” he said.
He said whenever his agents make big busts like they did in this operation, the number of burglaries and robberies in the area tend to drop.
It’s a welcome effort to business owners, who said they have noticed an increase in police presence.
“The safer an area seems, the more business it will bring here,” said resident Lenny Aviles.
With millions of visitors annually, keeping them safe is a priority for law enforcement.
“I’d definitely come back and tell people to come here,” said tourist Kevin Davis.
Last month, the MBI arrested two prostitutes at the Westgate Resort on International Drive.
MBI records show Platinum Companions was in business for at least two years and racked in thousands of dollars.
Investigators said the man who ran the operation recruited the women from all over Florida to sell sex along International Drive.