POLK COUNTY, Fla. - A four-day investigation resulted in 78 people being arrested and charged in connection with a prostitution sting in Polk County.
The sting began Thursday and wrapped up on Sunday, authorities said. It targeted websites that were related to men and women who were advertising to commit prostitution and solicit for prostitution, authorities said.
Charges in the investigation range from solicitation of prostitution, in which the suspects either posted online ads or answered online ads, to possession of illegal drugs, aiding and abetting, escape, traffic offenses, battery on a law enforcement officer, violation of probation and failure to register as a sexual offender, authorities said.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said one of the suspects, Dalavone Keobandith, is a former porn star who appeared in over 170 adult films.
“We seemed to have every thug and reprobate in central Florida under arrest,” said Judd.
Six of the suspects were from Orange County. Six suspects were from Seminole and Osceola counties and one was from Lake County, officials said.
Police said Willie Steven Allen is a pimp and was arrested in the sting. Investigators said he’s been arrested 35 times and charged with 89 crimes.
One suspect was a wanted sexual predator with a warrant for failure to register, and another was wanted for grand theft, according to the police report.
Authorities said most of the suspects held reputable jobs, including one who worked in information technology with the city of Lakeland.
There was also a retired American Airline pilot and a microbiologist employed by a food testing lab in Georgia, authorities said.
Investigators said another of the suspects, Jeremiah Hintz, wanted to get into law enforcement and was due to graduate from the Basic Law Enforcement Academy at South Florida Community College on Wednesday.
“So, he thought he was going to be a law enforcement officer. Well, maybe he was celebrating early,” said Judd.
“Let the word go forward, this is not our last operation, because we like it,” said Grady.
The sheriff said stings are important, because it gets criminals off the streets. He said it also makes people think twice about taking part in illegal activity.