A human trafficking operation that was carried out in Polk County, Florida earlier this month has reportedly led to more than 219 arrests, including a high school teacher, three Disney employees, and a number of illegal immigrants.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said on Thursday that the results of the operation ultimately led to the arrest of 119 prostitutes, 21 of whom may have been victims of human trafficking, according to
The two suspects who were charged with human trafficking were in the U.S. illegally. Freddy Escalona, 30, and Maria Guzman, 36, were charged with human trafficking and receiving proceeds from prostitution.
The authorities said that when Escalona lent money to a female victim to help fix her vehicle, he allegedly forced her into prostitution after she said she could not pay him back.
After he drove her to an undercover location, he was taken into custody and shared with the authorities that there were "several females that he worked," according to the report.
Guzman was also reportedly involved in trafficking two victims from a hotel in Orlando, allegedly setting up their "dates" and making money from the transaction.
that Judd's office said a total of 83 suspects were arrested for allegedly soliciting prostitution. There was another 17 suspects arrested, five of whom made money from prostitution or aiding and abetting prostitutes. Eight of the suspects have been accused of driving the prostitutes to the undercover location.
During the operation, a total of 44 felony charges and 242 misdemeanor charges were dished out.
"Not only did we arrest more suspects during this single operation than we have ever arrested before, we identified 21 human trafficking victims; during a similar operation in February, we identified 24 victims," Judd stated.
"That’s 45 victims we were able to identify this year. The valuable relationships that we have with the social services organizations who join us in these operations make it possible for these women to get help and be emancipated from this way of life."
Thirty-five of those who were arrested were in the country illegally. Some of them were from Colombia, Cuba, Chile, Mexico, Bahamas, Guatemala, and Mexico.
WTVT noted that 41 suspects reportedly admitted to the authorities that they were married; 13 confessed that they received some kind of government assistance; two were in possession of firearms; 18 were from other states; and 42 had brought illegal drugs to the undercover location.
LIVE- Sheriff Grady Judd gives update after hundreds arrested in undercover human trafficking bust
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