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3 rescued, 22 arrested during human trafficking operation in Tampa Bay area

Some of the people arrested had outstanding warrants.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Three potential victims of human trafficking were rescued, and 22 people were arrested after a human trafficking bust in the Tampa Bay area.

St Petersburg Police investigators teamed up with Tampa Bay Human Task Force members representing the Tampa Police Department, Bradenton Police Department, Homeland Security, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the FBI and several social service agencies. Together, the agencies carried out a special operation on Oct. 22 and 23.

"The purpose was to find and rescue potential human trafficking victims," St. Pete police explained.

Detectives say they set up at a local motel and responded to online ads for sex that sounded like they might involve human trafficking. When the people responding to those ads showed up at the motel, authorities say they screened the individuals to determine if they were potentially trafficking victims who would leave willingly with social service counselors.

Ultimately, police say three potential victims, who were all adults, were saved during the two-day operation. The 22 people arrested were charged with a variety of crimes, including prostitution and drug charges. Some had warrants, according to police.

RELATED: 45 missing children found, 109 human trafficking survivors rescued in Ohio operation

RELATED: Selling Girls | Sex traffickers are targeting American children

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