Polk County detectives arrest more than 100 suspects in undercover human trafficking investigation

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — Over six days, undercover detectives with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office conducted a special investigation known as “Operation No Tricks No Treats,” with the intent of identifying and helping victims of human trafficking who might be forced into prostitution, deputies said.

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Detectives said they used internet advertisements to arrange the meetings with potential traffickers, which took place at an undercover location in Polk County.

Deputies said the Auburndale, Haines City, Lake Hamilton, Lake Wales, and Lakeland police departments participated in this investigation, which resulted in 102 suspects arrested, including 38 who offered to commit prostitution, 62 who solicited prostitutes, and two child predators.

All of those arrested were from the Central Florida area, with the exception of four who were from out of state. Detectives said 55 of the them live in Polk County.

Detectives charged those arrested with a total of 29 felonies and 143 misdemeanors.

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Of the 38 people arrested for offering to commit prostitution, two have been identified as possible human trafficking victims.

“The primary purpose for these operations is to identify victims of human trafficking and those who prey on the victims, as well as the deviant child predators who stalk children online,” Sheriff Grady Judd said. “We work hand-in-hand with organizations to get help for the victims of human trafficking. We identified three possible victims during this investigation.”

Deputies said there were three people who came to the undercover location to commit prostitution, but may be victims of human trafficking.

Deputies said one person who arrived at the undercover location, a 17-year-old girl, was also identified and rescued.

Detectives said they worked with Selah Freedom, One More Child, Heartland for Children and Children’s Home Society Child Advocacy Center groups for assistance and support.

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Officials said each person who was arrested for prostitution was given immediate access to members of the anti-trafficking organizations and offered assistance.

Investigators also said two men were arrested for soliciting who they thought were children online. One of the men traveled to the location to meet the “child,” and the other was arrested in Orange County where he works, on a Polk County warrant.

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Katlyn Brieskorn, WFTV.com

Katlyn Brieskorn is a Digital Assignment Editor at WFTV. She joined Channel 9 in July 2019.