‘No Tricks. No Treats.’ Polk County announces 102 arrests in human trafficking sting

Polk County, Florida, Sheriff Grady Judd had a strong message for potential looters.
Polk County, Florida, Sheriff Grady Judd had a strong message for potential looters.(Polk County Sheriff's Office/Facebook)
Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 10:24 AM EDT
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POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WWSB) - The Polk County Sheriff’s office announced over 100 arrests in a human trafficking string.

Over the course of six days, Polk County Sheriff’s undercover detectives conducted a special investigation known as “Operation No Tricks No Treats,” with the intent of identifying and helping victims of human trafficking who may be forced into prostitution. PCSO worked alongside officials from Auburndale, Haines City, Lake Hamilton, Lake Wales, and Lakeland Police Departments.

The operation utilized internet advertisements to arrange the meetings between undercover detectives and suspects.

“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 was quoted in a news release. “We work hand-in-hand with organizations to get help for the victims of human trafficking. We identified three possible victims during this investigation.”

There were three people who came to the undercover location to commit prostitution, but may be victims of human trafficking, one of whom is a juvenile. Detectives worked with Selah Freedom, One More Child, Heartland for Children, and Children’s Home Society Child Advocacy Center for assistance and support.

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

Two men were arrested for soliciting who they thought were children online. One of those suspects traveled to the location to meet the “child,” and the other suspect was arrested in Orange County where he works.

There were 38 people arrested for offering to commit prostitution, which is a second-degree misdemeanor, and four of those suspects have prior arrests for prostitution; of the 38 arrests, two are possible adult victims of human trafficking – a third juvenile victim was not arrested. 62 were arrested who were soliciting a prostitute, which is a first degree misdemeanor, and five of those were previously arrested for the same.

Grady Judd said 11 suspects were married, others were previous sex offenders and ranged in ages from 19 to 78.

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