Chris Lange, FISM News
Two dozen victims were rescued and 213 people were arrested in an undercover sex trafficking sting in Central Florida this week.
Florida’s Polk County Sheriff’s Department announced the arrests Thursday in a press release at the conclusion of a weeklong undercover operation titled “Operation Traffic Stop.”
“Not only did we arrest more suspects during this single operation than we have ever arrested before, we identified 24 human trafficking victims – the highest number of victims we’ve ever rescued during one of these investigations,” Sheriff Grady Judd stated in the release.
In total, 89 suspects were arrested for soliciting a prostitute and traveling to the undercover location to negotiate having sex in exchange for money. Another 10 were arrested on charges of either profiting from prostitution or “aiding and abetting prostitutes.” Police also arrested 111 individuals on prostitution charges. Three additional arrests were reported, though the charges weren’t specified.
Among those arrested were five suspects who had been nabbed in previous sting operations in the county. The release noted that several of the suspects had extensive criminal histories, “including violent felonies such as kidnapping, robbery, aggravated assault, and sex offenses.”
ARRESTS, RESCUES HIGHLIGHT BORDER CRISIS
A list of the findings detailed in the press release shows that 14 of the individuals arrested “are suspected of being in the country illegally,” 13 of whom were identified as Cubans and one as a Mexican national. Six of the 14 were identified as victims of human trafficking.
In a press conference announcing the arrests, Judd noted: “These ladies all arrived within the last two years. The majority of them arrived within the last six months. Some of them arrived within the last two weeks.”
Polk County detectives also seized “fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana, from those arrested during the operation,” according to the press release.
The report underscores the rampant exploitation of migrants at the U.S. southern border by cartels who operate lucrative sex trafficking and drug smuggling enterprises. FISM’s Curt Flewelling recently reported that the U.S. Drug Enforcement agency seized enough fentanyl at the U.S.-Mexico border in 2022 to “kill every American,” plus more.
John Modlin, chief patrol agent in Arizona’s Tucson sector, testified before Congress earlier this month that, under the Biden administration, cartels have developed a vast and sophisticated network of drug-smuggling and sex-trafficking rings.
Gloria Chavez, chief patrol agent in the Rio Grande Valley sector of southern Texas, said in her testimony that “cartels and transnational criminal organizations” exploit the porous border “daily for human smuggling, narcotics trafficking, and other illicit activities.”