HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL — Seventy-one suspects solicited undercover detectives for sex in a one-month human trafficking operation leading to the Super Bowl in February, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Chad Chronister kicked off “Operation Interception” Dec. 7, and detectives worked undercover posting online ads offering to meet up and make themselves available to be purchased for sex. Women detectives posed as prostitutes on the streets, officials said.
The ‘sex-buyers’ were arrested and charged with soliciting another to commit prostitution or entering/remaining in a place for prostitution, according to authorities. Some individuals received additional charges, including drug possession.
The Super Bowl is a magnet for human trafficking, according to the Institute for Sport and Social Justice. Events that draw big audiences and large numbers of visitors create environments ripe for human traffickers.
“Like any major sporting event, the Super Bowl should not be a venue where these types of crimes occur on the sidelines, whether it’s before, during, or after the game,” Chronister said. “We know from past experiences with major sporting events that there will be some who travel for the exclusive purpose of taking advantage of women and children. I want to make it very clear, if you are planning to engage in the sexual exploitation of others, I’m urging you to think twice. We will find you, and you will be arrested.”
Chronister said by continuing to conduct undercover operations targeting people soliciting for sex, his hope is that both residents and visitors of Hillsborough County the week of the big game, including those traveling specifically to engage in human trafficking, will learn in advance that Hillsborough County has a zero-tolerance for such activity.
For a full list of suspects that were arrested and mugshots, visit Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office website.
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