Updated: Jan 27, 2021
The heightened war against human trafficking pushed by the Trump Administration continues full speed ahead to apprehend those involved in soliciting or trafficking young girls.
On no day other than National Human Trafficking Awareness Day which is January 11th, police officers made dozens of arrests in an effort to end sexual exploitation of minors.
The latest massive bust made by “Operation Interception” resulted in 71 arrests of U.S. citizens who were caught red handed online in the Tampa Bay Area.
The Sheriff’s Office of Hillsborough County wrote in a thread on Twitter, “Operation Interception is one of many proactive approaches #teamHCSO has taken over the last two years leading up to Super Bowl LV.
The goal: intercept individuals involved in sexual exploitation, before they are able to take advantage of vulnerable individuals.”
To catch them, “HCSO undercover detectives posted online ads offering to meet up, making themselves available to be purchased for sex and female detectives posed as prostitutes in the streets,” HCSO continued.
The Sheriff’s Office detailed arrests made as 71 total men whose ages range between 20 to 62 years old.
HCSO reported, “Among them are active duty military members, a Christian school teacher and local business owners.”
Only two of them were previously registered sex offenders.
Sheriff Chad Chronister sent out a strong warning, “I want to make it very clear, if you are planning to engage in the sexual exploitation of others, I’m urging you to think twice.”
“We will find you and you will be arrested,” Chronister said.
The operation is reportedly a prevention effort to curb trafficking activity ahead of the Super Bowl next month.
The biggest football event of the year is historically known to have an extremely high risk of increased sex trafficking due its magnitude which makes it easier to engage in illegal activity in plain sight.
Risk of human trafficking also increased significantly in 2020 due to the pandemic-caused shut downs. Americans had less access to resources and communication with others outside of their residence which gave them less of a chance to escape trafficking situations.
However, this bust follows several other operations which resulted in mass arrests of traffickers and exploiters over the past few months including Operation Safety Net, Operation Not Forgotten, and Operation Stolen Innocence.
Thankfully, the combined effort of local law enforcement, U.S. Marshals, FBI, and the Trump Administration, have brought hundreds of minors to safety, and hundreds of suspects to jail.