Polk prostitution sting results in 80 arrests - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Polk prostitution sting results in 80 arrests

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POLK COUNTY, FL (WFLA) - Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives conducted a four day prostitution investigation that resulted in the arrests of 80 suspects on a variety of charges, including soliciting for prostitution, soliciting another to commit a lewd act, deriving sup-port/proceeds from prostitution, and aiding/abetting prostitution. The investigation was conducted in an undercover location in Polk County from Thursday, December 12th to Sunday, December 15th, 2013.

Detectives answered and placed ads on Internet websites such as Backpage.com. Undercover detectives arrested 24 men who were soliciting ("Johns"), 33 prostitutes, 13 who were aiding and abetting prostitution or deriving proceeds from prostitution, and 10 others for a variety of drug and other charges.

66% of those arrested (53 out of 80) have previous criminal histories including charges such as attempted murder, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, robbery, child abuse, battery, theft, fraud, and drug crimes. Among them, they had been charged with 395 crimes, an average of 7 ½ crimes each.

"Prostitution is not a victimless crime. From the spread of disease and destruction of families to human trafficking, prosti-tution is bad for our community. We arrested a 16-year-old girl from Orlando on Saturday for prostitution.  She was driven to our undercover location (along with a 26 year old female prostitute) by a 20-year-old man. The teen is clearly a victim of sex trafficking. We arrested the driver for deriving proceeds from prostitution and we are going to do everything we can to get her help and find out who is involved in trafficking this teenager," said Grady Judd, Polk Sheriff.

Among those arrested is Justin Bachand, 32, who is employed as a Florida Department of Corrections Probation Officer.  Also under arrest is Mark Graffrath, 50, who has been arrested in two previous sting operations on prostitution.

"Not only is he a slow learner, but he was arrested on one occasion by the same exact undercover agent," said Judd.

Detectives learned that 22 of those arrested are receiving food stamps / SNAP benefits.

"We are giving them thousands of dollars a month to either violate the law, or we are paying for them indirectly to obtain the proceeds of a prostitute," said Judd.

Nine of the "johns" told deputies that they were married and one was engaged to be married. Five of the prostitutes told deputies they were married.

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