ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Nearly 30 people were arrested in Orange County over the weekend following an Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation sting that targeted men who solicited women to work as prostitutes and men who tried to buy sex from them.
Agents told WFTV’s Kenneth Craig that they are constantly arresting prostitutes, but for the first time in more than a year they solely went after the johns, along with the customers, by using undercover decoys listing their services on online sex sites.
That switch in tactic is something one sex trade survivor said she’s been waiting for.
“Simple economics dictate that if you reduce the demand, that the supply will be reduced as well,” said Jesse Maley, an advocate to end sex trafficking in the community.
According to the MBI, last year their operations identified 32 victims of sex trafficking and in the process, they rescued four underage women.
“I do think that this is significant. I do think 29 is a very big number and I do think this sends a strong message to men who are looking to buy sex in our community,” Maley said.
Of the 29 arrests, MBI agents said Anthony Davis was their biggest catch.
They said Davis is a career criminal who switched from violent crime to the sex trafficking business.
“This is a very violent convicted felon with firearms charges in his past, burglary charges in his past,” said Lt. Michael Gibson, an MBI agent with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities said suspects like Davis have been known to beat, drug and force women into the sex trade.
“It shows the character of the kind of people who are forcing these females into prostitution,” Maley said. “Addressing this demand issue, this is a huge switch tactic and a very important one.”
MBI agents said the stings involving the johns are complicated and require a lot of agents.