An undercover sting in Polk County ended in 277 arrests related to human trafficking and online prostitution. Included in the round up: doctors, police officers and teachers.
“That’s the most we have ever arrested in the history of the sheriff’s office,” Polk County Sheriff Sheriff Grady Judd told WFLA.
The week-long sting called “Operation No Tricks, No Treats” began last Tuesday. Undercover detectives posed as prostitutes and posted fake ads and profiles online. Other officers sought out and responded to ads posted by alleged prostitutes.
Over 200 of the arrests were people who solicited the undercover detectives. Police said a pediatrician, a cancer surgeon, pharmacists, a US Marine Corps Colonel, former and current law enforcement officer and a lawyer were among those arrested for soliciting the police during “Operation No Tricks, No Treats.” They even arrested someone from their own sheriff’s office: Sergeant Luis Diaz, who has since resigned after 17 years.
“We are absolutely embarrassed,” Judd said. “We hold our own accountable. He messed up and no longer works for the Sheriff's Office.”
Judd said that one of the men arrested had been married for just four days.
“Did you hear me? Married four days when he YouTubed ‘how to find an escort,’” Judd said, according to WTSP.
Five people who were being trafficked were identified in this sting. The victims have been connected with counseling and other services.
Jodi Bennett, a regional advocate, said, “That's going to be a very powerful time to intercede in their life at that point, and to be able to offer them the services they need to be restored and in a place of healing.”