Over the past three months, authorities in Florida have successfully dismantled a human trafficking operation, resulting in the apprehension of 123 individuals.
WTVT reports that those arrested were spiritual leaders, nurses, and teachers.
Dubbed Operation Renewed Hope, this three-month endeavor was executed by the Human Trafficking Squad of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
Undercover operations were conducted both on the streets and within various hotels and motels. Additionally, online platforms were utilized for virtual chats as part of this operation.
Detectives assumed personas of minors offering themselves for sexual activities during these conversations. Furthermore, detectives posed as guardians to lure potential predators seeking to exploit minors.
Sheriff Chad Chronister explained that he strategically planned this operation to coincide with the holiday season when children typically have more free time and are more active online.
This decision aimed to maximize their protection from potential harm according to WTVT’s report.
“I wanted to ensure that our children would be protected and those wanting to pay for sex and wanting to fuel the sex trade were not getting a free pass because of the holidays,” Chronister said.
After the authorities arrested 123 people who were charged with human trafficking-related crimes, Chronister said that a basketball coach, a spiritual teacher, and a nurse were involved.
“These are individuals who betrayed our trust,” he said.
“These suspects know what they are doing is wrong. Even a few of them that were arrested, and we’re seeing a trend – they drop their cell phones, they take their cell phones somewhere else before they show up to have sex with this young child because they don’t want their wife to be able to track where they are at,” Sheriff Chronister said. “They know what they are doing is wrong.”
According to a report by Fox News Digital, the Human Trafficking Squad has achieved significant results with the arrest of 604 individuals and the charging of 36 with crimes related to trafficking.
“What I find even more impressive is the fact this squad has rescued 28 victims from the grips of human trafficking,” Chronister said. “That is 28 people whose lives were saved thanks to the hard work and dedication of the men and women on this team.”
According to Chronister, it is evident that those participating in such activities are fully aware of their wrongdoing.
In many cases, these individuals deliberately leave their cellphones behind prior to engaging in sexual encounters with minors, so as to conceal their whereabouts from their spouses.