Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd speaks at a press conference, announcing the arrest of 78 people in an undercover online prostitution sting.
Bartow, Florida -- The Polk County Sheriff's Office says dozens of people have been arrested following a three-day undercover operation that targeted online prostitution ads.
Deputies say that in the operation conducted between January 10 and January 13, 78 people were arrested, total. Thirty-one reportedly have criminal histories, including nine registered felons. One of those felons has been previously arrested 38 times in the Tampa Bay area.
See Also: Look up sex offenders here
Those arrested for solicitation of prostitution either posted or responded to online ads, according to detectives. Other charges included 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 sex offender.
Photos: See all 78 arrested here
"Some of those arrested had reputable jobs, such as working in information technology with the City of Lakeland," said Sheriff Grady Judd. "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."
Another suspect, Judd told reporters Monday, was Jeremiah Hintz. Hintz reportedly was set to graduate from Basic Law Enforcement Academy at South Florida Community College on Wednesday.
"Anyone who breaks the law in Polk County will be arrested, regardless of what occupation they have or want to have," said Judd. "Whether it is on the street, or online, it is illegal and we will continue to investigate and arrest those involved in prostitution."
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, nine 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
- 14 told detectives they were receiving government aid; one suspect denied receiving aid, however had food stamps in her possession
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