An undercover cyber crime prostitution and child-sex sting conducted jointly by the Lake and Polk county sheriff’s offices netted 101 arrests Tuesday.
Of those arrested was an Orlando community activist who drove to a Clermont-area house intending to meet what he believed was a 12-year-old girl he had been chatting with online for sex, according to authorities. The man apparently drove to the house in a vehicle with a specialty “Invest in Children” license plate and was arrested after knocking on the door of the decoy house.
The two-week sting, which started on May 18, resulted in 79 people being arrested in the prostitution operation and 22 in the child-sex sting, according to officials.
The operation, dubbed “L & P” for “Lake” and “Polk,” used chat rooms and online forums to identify people seeking illicit sex. The first phase of the operation targeted people looking to have sex with minors from 10 to 14. The second phase of the operation targeted prostitution, and most suspects were arrested for attempting to engage in a sex act for cash. A few were busted for drug possession and one driver faces charges for taking a person to the house knowing prostitution was involved, according to reports.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is notorious for conducting sex sting operations around the county that are intended to target adults seeking underage individuals online to engage in sexual activities. Undercover officers usually claim that those arrested in these sting operations responded to ads that implied a minor was available for sex.
Regardless of the fact that many sex sting cases wind up getting dismissed, and many convictions are overturned due to entrapment, once arrested, the damage is already done. The media coverage sought by law enforcement in regards to these sting operations are ruthless to the point that the accused may find a TV news camera aimed at his face while being guided into the back seat of a patrol car. These accusations alone can negatively impact a person’s employment status, reputation, family and personal life.
If you or a loved one has been arrested following a Polk County prostitution sting, or is being investigated by law enforcement for allegedly arranging sexual activity with a minor, please call a Polk County Criminal Defense Lawyer at Whittel & Melton to arrange a free consultation to learn more about your legal rights. We can begin helping you right away, call us at 866-608-5529 or contact us online to get the help you need today.