A Polk County undercover human trafficking sting netted 61 arrests, including a husband and wife, and a PGA professional who said he has used social media sites to engage in sex for money with more than 100 females.
The undercover operation, from Thursday through Sunday, targeted online ads for prostitution, deputies say.
“We’ve seen firsthand the negative social costs of how prostitution hurts families, children, and communities,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. “And more often than not, there is a high correlation between other crimes and prostitution. We see repeat criminal offenders with criminal arrest histories to include illegal drugs, violent crime and property crime, and these repeat criminal offenders engage in sex for money.”
Among those arrested:
♦ Jazmin Alvelo and Glenda Maldonado of Tampa. Alvelo drove Maldonado to the undercover location and remained in the car with a 3-year-old child while Maldonado was inside offering sex in exchange for $300. Both also face drug charges, and each has multiple arrests on charges ranging from grand theft, aggravated assault, and drug possession.
♦ Adrian Hernandez, who told detectives he was employed by the city of Bartow who attempted to pay the undercover detective with cash and a $30 winning scratch-off lottery ticket. Deputies say Hernandez also was in possession of a “meth pipe” upon his arrest.
♦ John Cokes of Valrico, 68, the oldest suspect arrested. Deputies say he attempted to chastise the undercover female detectives by telling them they’ll”get arrested in Polk County.”
♦ Scott Yates, who is listed on the PGA Tour site as an instructor. Yates told detectives he is employed at the Big Cypress Golf & Country Club, and has used social media sites to pay more than 100 woman for sex.
In all, deputies say 13 suspects said they were married, 11 were on public assistance, and all the suspects had a combined 332 previous felony, misdemeanor or failure to appear charges.
“Human trafficking is a crime,” Judd said. “We have found a direct nexus between prostitution and human trafficking, and we combat this crime by conducting undercover prostitution investigations. Whether it is on the street or online, prostitution, and the crimes it attempts to disguise, is illegal and we will continue to investigate and arrest those involved.”