POLK COUNTY, FLA. — It might be March Madness, but in Polk County some unsuspecting criminals got wrapped up in “March Sadness.”
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday announced a major prostitution bust, resulting in the take down of more than a hundred suspects.
“Operation March Sadness,” a six-day-long undercover investigation at the PCSO Sheriff’s Operations Center in Winter Haven (from Tuesday, March 14 through Sunday, March 20) focused on those who advertise prostitution services in online ads and identifying victims of human trafficking.
PCSO undercover detectives, working with the Office of the State Attorney (10th Judicial Circuit, State Attorney Brian Haas), arrested a total of 104 suspects.
Of the 104 suspects arrested:
- 38 were prostitutes
- 51 were “Johns,” or those who solicited to pay for prostitution
- 14 others were arrested for related charges, such as deriving proceeds from prostitution
- 1 was arrested for traveling to meet a minor
- 23 told detectives they were married
Detectives seized 2 firearms, and drugs including marijuana, Oxycodone, heroin and cocaine.
Many of the prostitutes traveled to Florida, and told detectives they travel across the country, having sex for money.
The suspects ranged in age from 20 to 63 years old.
In all, detectives filed 37 felony charges and 128 misdemeanor charges against the 104 suspects. Among the 104 suspects, there was a total of 191 previous felonies and 288 previous misdemeanor charges in their criminal histories.