Military members, teacher, and sex predators among 71 arrested in Hillsborough human trafficking sting

By FOX 13 News staff

TAMPA, Fla. - There were 71 people arrested following a month-long human trafficking operation by Hillsborough County’s undercover detectives, the sheriff said, adding that the agency won’t slow down in tracking down “Johns” as Tampa becomes the Super Bowl host next month.

“All of these men have one thing in common: they did not care if the women they were going to have sex with were being exploited, forced to sell their bodies against their will,” Sheriff Chad Chronister explained Monday.

During a press conference, he said “Operation Interception” involved undercover detectives posting online advertisements offering to meet up for sex. Female detectives posed as prostitutes.

“The reality is no one willingly chooses to enter the world of sexual exploitation,” Chronister explained. “We have found that in many cases these individuals suffer from some type of victimization of rape or suffer from some type of substance abuse.”

All suspects were men ranging from the ages of 20 to 62. The sheriff said they included active-duty military members, a Christian schoolteacher, a firefighter, a banker, construction workers, local business owners, and two registered sex offenders.