POLK COUNTY, Fla. - Detectives are trying to identify victims of human trafficking in a prostitution bust that nabbed 154 people across Polk County, the sheriff’s office said.
A six-day undercover operation called “No Spring Fling” wrapped up Sunday and resulted in the arrests of men and women who posted and responded to ads soliciting prostitution, deputies said.
"The primary goal in operations like this is to find victims of human trafficking who are being manipulated into prostitution. 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,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.
A 17-year-old girl, a 23-year-old woman and a 17-year-old boy were victims of human trafficking, deputies said.
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“All three have been offered services with the One More Child organization and the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) is also involved,” a news release said.
Two men were arrested on charges of traveling to meet a minor for sex, authorities said.
“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," Judd said.
Watch news conference with Sheriff Grady Judd below:
The people arrested range in ages between 17 years old and 69 years old, deputies said. A 17-year-old girl was arrested on drug charges and not on prostitution charges due to her being a runaway “minor involved in prostitution,” the release said.
Of the 154 people arrested, 69 were prostitutes, 75 were "johns," or those who solicited to pay for prostitution. Detectives filed 46 felony charges and 202 misdemeanor charges against the arrested.
Deputies said among the 154 arrested, there were 567 previous felonies and 695 previous misdemeanor charges in their criminal histories.
The Lakeland Police Department, Winter Haven PD and Haines City PD assisted in the investigation.
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