A youth minister from California, a man on his honeymoon and a 15-year-old girl were among 92 people arrested during a Polk County sting targeting online prostitution ads, Sheriff Grady Judd said Monday.
According to deputies, the people arrested responded to advertisements posted by undercover detectives posing as prostitutes or were prostitutes who posted ads and came to the detectives’ location to offer services.
The ads were on the website Backpage, which Judd said would be investigated for facilitating organized prostitution and “human trafficking.”
Charges ranged from offering to commit lewdness to aiding and abetting prostitution, deriving proceeds from prostitution, escape, traffic offenses, possession of illegal drugs, battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest.
Among those arrested was 45-year-old Samuel Yoon, a youth minister in San Leandro Calif., who detectives said went to the undercover location to have sex with a 14-year-old girl. He had answered an ad posted by an undercover detective offering females for sale, the sheriff’s office said.
Yoon, a youth minister for the New Community Mission Church, was in Orlando at a youth ministry conference, the sheriff’s office said. He has no prior arrests.
Two married men were arrested after arriving at the location to have sex with prostitutes, deputies said. One of them, 21-year-old Mohammed Ahmed, of Illinois, was in Orlando on his honeymoon, the sheriff’s office said. The other, 32-year-old Venancio Goncalves, of St. Petersburg, faces one count of soliciting prostitution.
Another man, 48-year-old Michael Kempfer, of Orlando, was arrested after detectives said he brought a 15-year-old girl to the undercover location as a prostitute.
The girl, who was charged with prostitution and resisting arrest, told detectives she was a runaway. Her family was contacted, and she was transported to the juvenile facility, deputies said.
Those arrested came from Tampa, Plant City, Lakeland and other Florida cities as well as places outside of Florida. They included 12 “pimps” brought prostitutes to the undercover location, 39 were prostitutes, 39 were “johns” who wished to pay for sex and two accompanied suspects to the location.
The sting took place from Wednesday through Saturday.