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‘Operation Traffic Stop 2′: Polk County human-trafficking sting nets 219 arrests

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — Polk County officials announced Thursday that they made more than 200 human trafficking-related arrests during a weeklong sting.

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Officials said the operation, called “Operation Traffic Stop 2,” resulted in 219 arrests as well as the identification of 21 human-trafficking victims.

Deputies said Freddy Escanola, of Chicago, was charged with trafficking several women.

Watch: Florida’s fight against human trafficking: What is being done?

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd warned that traffickers can look like normal, run-of-the-mill people.

He said such was the case with Maria Guzman, who allegedly trafficked victims from an Orlando hotel after promising them work at border crossings.

Watch: Florida lawmaker pushes bipartisan bill to combat human trafficking

“You always think of the guys being human traffickers. But she is the one facing a first-degree felony charge, which is 30 years in prison (if convicted),” Judd said.

The additional arrests made were for other charges, such as aiding and abetting and solicitation.

Watch: Human trafficking survivors raise concerns about Central Florida safehouse, lack of state regulation

Judd said his agency liberated an additional 24 victims earlier this year, bringing the total to 45 people so far in 2023.

Watch Judd’s full news conference below:

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