Craigslist prostitution bust caught on tape
VIDEO - Dozens of women have been busted by Florida authorities in a prostitution sting centered on Craigslist postings. The arrests were part of Operation Hot Date...
Dozens of women have been busted by Florida authorities in a prostitution sting centered on Craigslist postings.
The arrests were part of Operation Hot Date, a three-day sting set up by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff’s office arrested 28 prostitutes and four male pimps in the operation that started last Thursday and ended Saturday.
Undercover detectives contacted the women who had posted $10 advertisements on Craigslist.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said the San Francisco-based online classified company bears some responsibility.
“They provide the infrastructure for prostitutes to operate,” Judd said at a Monday afternoon news conference. “Craigslist is one-stop shopping for all of your prostitution needs.”
Detectives said had e-mail and telephone contacts with the women and negotiated sex acts ranging from $125 to $800.
At the news conference, Judd said Craigslist helped facilitate prostitution, even after it has been warned in the past on how its website can be used for the illegal activity.
“They’ve been asked; they’ve been encouraged,” Judd said. “And now I’m promising them they will be charged criminally by our office and we will seek prosecution if they continue to violate the laws of the state of Florida.
“They may have perpetuated enough criminal conduct that they are a criminal defendant in waiting,” Judd said.
The company late Monday released a statement defending itself.
“Adult service ads on Craigslist are dwarfed in volume, and tame in content, compared to other central Florida advertising venues that have not adopted Craigslist’s strict review standards,’’ the company said in an e-mailed statement to a newspaper. “It would be surprising if the Sheriff has chosen to ignore the larger and much more explicit adult service advertising venues operating throughout his jurisdiction.’‘
Judd also warned the men who used the services of the prostitutes.
Detectives have the contact books and cell phones of the prostitutes they arrested, and they’ll be contacting former customers, Judd said.
“And for those of you who are married, it will be certainly a surprise for your wife,” Judd said.