Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrested 160 people—including a police officer, a Disney employee, and school teachers—throughout central Florida as part of a seven-day multi-agency undercover prostitution investigation that began on Aug. 30, 2022.
“The online prostitution industry enables traffickers and allows for the continued victimization of those who are being trafficked,” said Sheriff Grady Judd in a press release on Friday. “Our goal is to identify victims, offer them help, and arrest those who are fueling the exploitation of human beings (Johns) and those profiting from the exploitation of human beings.”
Judd added that prostitution resulted in “exploitation, disease, dysfunction, drug and alcohol addiction, violence, and broken families.”
Two trafficking victims and another five possible victims were identified in the operation dubbed “Fall Haul 2.” Deputies said that out of the 160 arrested, 26 claimed to be married, 15 were from other states including New York and California, 16 were living in Polk County, and seven are suspected of being illegal immigrants.
Drugs like cocaine, marijuana, and heroin were seized during the operation. The age of those arrested ranged from 19 to 64 years old, and the criminal histories of all arrested included 419 previous felonies and 619 previous misdemeanors, involving charges for kidnapping, robbery, and sex offenses.
Polk County detectives have charged those arrested with a total of 52 felonies and 216 misdemeanors.
“Many of these people were already well known to the criminal justice system,” said Judd in a press conference on Friday, adding that many of the arrested were from the Orlando area. “Central Florida needs to catch a clue. If you come here to commit crime, you’re coming here to go to our jail.”