Polk County Sex Stings Have No End in Sight
The number of registered sex offenders rose dramatically in the state of Florida to over 70 percent with the rest of the US at approximately 23 percent increase. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd recently stated that they won’t put up with it in their county, and “We go after them everyday.” This increase can be seen as a big push for Florida law enforcement because it shows that law enforcement is dedicating much of their time to these stings, as the increase in the amount of convictions added to the sex offender’s registry shows the efforts that are being made.
This past week of June 12-16, the efforts of four months undercover work resulted in a weeklong sting led by Polk County authorities where a record number of offenders were arrested on the spot. Forty men and one woman were arrested who traveled into the county presumably looking to have sex with children. For a multitude of reasons, many perpetrators travel to Polk County to supposedly have sex with the children there, and the Sheriff’s department does no stand for it.
In 2006, Polk County law officials began seriously going after these perpetrators. In 2009, Polk County conducted nine of these undercover operations and arrested 309 individuals, but this latest sting brought in the largest number in one week.
The suspects had been communicating to undercover officers through Craigslist, Backpage and other social media sites, where they were directed to specific locations to find “children” for many different and varying reasons. Instead, they found law enforcement from 11 agencies across Florida working together to support Polk County Sheriff’s Department in this investigation.
Those charged came from a variety of backgrounds, including a Disney worker, police officer and a man who had been cleared by security to work at OIA. They came from across central Florida, and as far away as Washington State. All of the perpetrators had traveled to Polk County presumably to commit sex acts with children. These individuals have many sex crime defenses, though, because of how the operations are conducted.
The suspects were charged with a total of 180 charges, some of which were Lewd and Lascivious Battery, Procuring a Minor for Prostitution, sex crime defenses and multiple Drug Possessions. Those arrested will be tried by the State’s Attorney Tenth Judicial Circuit, as Polk County continues to put offenders behind bars – even those that were engaging in other activities such as roleplaying other situations they did not intend to fulfill.