According to a press release issued by the Public Affairs Office of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office on January 11, 2021, 71 people (all men) were arrested in “Operation Interception.”
In addition to the written press release, Sheriff Chad Chronister also held a live press conference to take credit for taking a “proactive approach to combat human trafficking” leading up to the Super Bowl coming to Tampa in February of 2021.
Operation Interception was an undercover sting operation that ran from December 7, 2020, until January 9, 2021.
The charges that arise from these sting operations include soliciting another to commit prostitution, or offering to commit prostitution, entering/remaining in a place for prostitution.
The sting operation was set up by detectives assigned to the Special Investigations Division with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
The sting operation was conducted at various locations in Hillsborough County including an Extended Stay America hotel located at 10623 East Bay Road in Gibsonton, FL, 33534.
The stated purpose of the operation was to locate and identify individuals who were actively involved with soliciting prostitution via the internet.
How Prostitution Sting Operations are Staged in Hillsborough County, FL
The sting operation involves the detectives creating fictitious advertisement was created and posted on an adult escort website. Within the advertisements were there comments listed that were indicative to prostitution.
A contact number was provided so undercover personnel could have direct communication with suspected individuals.
A female deputy with the sheriff’s office in Hillsborough County, FL, posed in an undercover capacity as a female prostitution. HCSO sometimes uses deputies posing as undercover male or transexual prostitutes.
The participants in the sting operation wait for someone to make contact with an undercover deputy via text to the number listed in the ad.
For this sting operation, the detectives acquired rooms at local hotels, including the Extended Stay America hotel in Gibsonton, to be utilized during the operation.
The rooms were equipped with covert listening devices that were monitored by detectives.
The undercover deputy posing as a prostitute would send text message or sometimes called the suspect in order to convince the person to come to the hotel for a sexual encounter. Once the person arrived, the undercover officer would provide the room number.
The undercover officer would then attempt to negotiate specific sexual acts or a specific amount of money so that the conversation could be recorded on the audio recording equipment.
When the undercover officer was ready, a predetermined signal was given, and detectives waiting in the adjacent room would enter, detain the suspect, and make an arrest.
What Happens After the Arrest in a Prostitution Sting?
After the arrest, the detectives would question the suspect in an attempt to get incriminating statements that would go against any entrapment defense. For instance, the detectives want the suspect to admit that they have engaged in such behavior before and were predisposed to do it.
The officers will then create an electronic criminal report affidavit and preserve a copy of the test message conversation and audio recording as evidence.
Attorneys for Undercover Prostitution Stings in Hillsborough County, FL
If you were accused of soliciting a prostitute in Tampa or Hillsborough County, then contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Sammis Law Firm. We represent men accused of solicitation (soliciting a prostitute), and related charges.
When HCSO manufactures a crime by using an elaborate sting operation, the person accused can mount an entrapment defense. The entrapment defense is particularly important in prostitution sting operations.
The goal in these cases is to get the charges dropped. If the charges are not dropped, then the next best result would be getting the charge reduced down to a less serious offense such as disorderly conduct with a withhold of adjudication so that the record can immediately be sealed.
Read more about how our attorneys fight charges for soliciting a prostitute in Hillsborough County, FL.
Contact one of the four attorneys at Sammis Law Firm to discuss your case. Call 813-250-0500.