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Florida sheriff: More than 40 people arrested for soliciting sex in undercover operation

One man faces additional charges of fleeing and attempting to elude a police officer.
Credit: Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

TAMPA, Fla. — After the course of a two-day sex trafficking operation, the sheriff announced deputies arrested 49 men on prostitution charges.

The sheriff's office said the operation was aimed at reducing the demand for human trafficking.

The men range in age from 20-76 years old and live across all parts of the county, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a news release. His agency had female deputies pose as sex workers through internet ads and on the streets.

More than 200 men made contact with them online, Chronister said, while about 40 additional men approached them in Tampa and Town 'N Country.

"The driving force of human trafficking is, and always will be, the desire and willingness of Johns, who are the customers, to pay for sex with people who are victims of this industry," Chronister said in the release. "Without demand, an industry falls apart."

One man, 37-year-old Isaac Thomas, faces additional charges of fleeing and attempting to elude a police officer and driving without a valid license.

The sheriff said the arrests were made Oct. 26-27.

This sting comes on the heels of another human trafficking operation reported in Tampa Bay where three potential human trafficking survivors were rescued and 22 people were arrested, according to local law enforcement. 

RELATED: 3 rescued, 22 arrested during human trafficking operation in Tampa Bay area

During that operation, St Petersburg Police investigators teamed up with Tampa Bay Human Task Force members representing the Tampa Police Department, Bradenton Police Department, Homeland Security, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the FBI and several social service agencies. 

Together, the agencies carried out a special operation on Oct. 22 and 23.

If you see something or someone suspicious, call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST. You can also call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 ( TTY: 711) or text 233733. Tips are anonymous.

RELATED: Selling Girls | Sex traffickers are targeting American children

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