Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives, working in an undercover capacity, conducted a four-day investigation, beginning Thursday, January 10, 2013, through Sunday, January 13, 2013, targeting online e-commerce sites related to men and women who were advertising to commit prostitution and solicit for prostitution.
At the conclusion of the investigation, 78 suspects were arrested. Their charges ranged from Solicitation of Prostitution in which the suspects either posted online ads, or answered online ads; to Possession of Illegal Drugs, Aiding and Abetting, Escape, Traffic Offenses, Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer, Violation of Probation, and Failure to Register as a Sexual Offender.
“Our message is clear - Prostitution is illegal and those who commit or who derive proceeds from this crime in Polk County can expect to go to jail.
The negative social costs of prostitution hurt families, children and communities. During this investigation we discovered three young children who were left in the care of men they likely didn’t know while their mother traveled to the undercover location to derive proceeds from prostitution. Subsequently, these young children were ‘dropped off’ with a neighbor. Their mother had no idea where they were when we found them. The potential dangers these children faced is unthinkable.
Many of those we arrested have past offenses, a number of which included felony arrest histories with one suspect having 38 total arrests in the central Florida area.
One suspect was a wanted Sexual Predator with a warrant for Failure to Register, another wanted for Grand Theft. And many were charged with drug possession.
Some of those arrested had reputable jobs, such as working in Information Technology with the City of Lakeland; there was a retired American Airline Pilot, and a Microbiologist employed by a food testing lab in Georgia. Others arrested included a medical technician, laborers, restaurant servers, Dalavone Keobandith who claimed to be an award winning Porn Star, and Claude Riley III, a transsexual suspect who said he works for MAC Cosmetics.
There were 21 suspects who told detectives they were unemployed and 14 suspects who told deputies they were receiving government assistance.
And there was Jeremiah Hintz who wanted to go into law enforcement. Hintz was attending South Florida Community College and due to graduate Wednesday, January 16, 2013, from the Basic Law Enforcement Academy.
Anyone who breaks the law in Polk County will be arrested, regardless of what occupation they have or want to have. Whether it is on the street, or online, it is illegal and we will continue to investigate and arrest those involved in prostitution. If you conduct activity like this in Polk County, you will be arrested.” – Sheriff Grady Judd
Of the 78 suspects arrested:
18 admitted they were married –one male and female suspect were married to each other
31 have criminal arrest histories – 9 of whom are registered felons – and one of whom has 86 previous charges in the Tampa Bay area. Felons from this investigation have a combined total of 339 past charges; of those, 42 prior violent crime charges, including Armed Robbery, Robbery, Aggravated Assault (with and without a deadly weapon), Aggravated Battery, Battery Domestic Violence, Stalking, Rape, Kidnapping, Child Abuse
22 were charged with possession of drugs
26 told detectives they were unemployed
50 admitted to being employed – Job types included: information technology, microbiologist, health technician, city employees, laborers, mechanics, a retired airline pilot, a porn star, food servers, and a Law Enforcement Academy trainee due to graduate Wednesday, January 16, 2013.
14 told detectives they were receiving government aid; one suspect denied receiving aid, however had food stamps in her possession