Orlando police netted 98 people in a four-day undercover prostitution sting. One of those was a 15-year-old girl; another was a former Orlando cop.
The operation, dubbed by investigators “When Will You Learn,” led to nearly 100 arrests for various charges. Deputies found at least three potential human trafficking cases among them.
"I’m way over people telling us, ‘Oh, it’s just consenting sex with two adults for money.' You need to wake up. There are a lot of problems associated with that statement,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd told WFTV.
One of the people implicated in the operation was a 15-year-old girl who ran away from her Miami home and became caught up in a prostitution operation in central Florida.
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“They don’t have a choice, they’re given drugs, they’re watched, they’re held against their will, they’re psychologically abused," Judd explained.
According to the sheriff, Orlando is a hub of the prostitution market.
“We had one prostitute tell us that, 'Hey, the pimps wear us out in Orlando,'" Judd said.
Investigators talked to several women who said they did not want to continue working but feared for their welfare and lives.
Judd claims that one prostitute told investigators, "I had one of them tell me, 'If you don’t come work for me, I’m going to throw acid in your face and burn you up.'"
Those charged in the sting include 53 people attempting to solicit sex, 16 who had brought prostitutes to an undercover location, and 28 prostitutes. The slew of charges encompasses aiding and abetting prostitution, possession of illegal drugs, child abuse, felony battering, violation of probation, traffic offenses and offering to commit lewdness.
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According to the Daily Mail, one woman, 20-year-old Deanna Elimon, was charged with child abuse by neglect for allegedly leaving two young children sleeping in an unlocked car while she went to offer her services to one John Alexander, who listed “staying out of jail” as his job on Facebook. Several others unwittingly solicited female undercover detectives for sex, including 44-year-old Michael Johnson, who served on the Orlando police force for two years in the 1990s.