Polk County Undercover Prostitution, Human Trafficking Sting Nets 154 Arrests

A large undercover online solicitation operation entitled “Operation No Spring Fling” has resulted in the arrests of over 150 people.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrests of 154 people after completing the six-day operation.

The sheriff’s office said a 17-year-old girl and a 23-year-old woman were identified as likely victims of human trafficking. A 17-year-old boy who traveled to the undercover location is also being considered a victim of human trafficking.

The 154 suspects range in age from 17 to 69 years of age, and they include 69 prostitutes, 75 people who solicited prostitutes, two people accused of traveling to meet a minor and five people inside the country illegally.

One of the suspects included a 34-year-old man who, investigators allege, traveled to meet with an undercover detective posing as a 14-year-old boy.

Investigators claim the man is HIV-positive yet told the undercover detective that he was not, and that he wanted to have unprotected sex. Authorities also allege the man had child pornography with him when he was arrested, including a piece of evidence showing the sexual battery of a child between 12 and 36 months.

A total of 46 felony charges and 202 misdemeanor charges were filed against the suspects.

When it comes to sex crimes “busts,” police will likely seize any property they believe was used in the commission of the crime. This includes property on the individual’s possession such as money, condoms, etc. that they will try to use to show that the person had intent to engage in the crime. They may also seize an individual’s computer, cell phone, or vehicle to further back their theories up.

These arrests can result in numerous sex crimes charges, from internet solicitation to solicitation of prostitution. Those arrested can be charged in either state or federal court for these crimes. If a suspect is charged and convicted of soliciting a minor, the penalties can will be enhanced significantly.

There are defenses to sex crimes erupting from undercover sting operations. The effectiveness of these viable defense options depend on a variety of factors, but if police error occurred or there is a lack of evidence, then the charges could be reduced or dismissed entirely.

If you have been arrested in an undercover sex crimes sting anywhere in Florida, our Florida Internet Solicitation Defense Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are here to help. Call us today at 866-608-5529 or contact us online for a completely free and confidential consultation.

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