Published: Wednesday, June 3, 2015 at 8:32 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 3, 2015 at 12:45 p.m.WINTER HAVEN — Detectives from Polk and Lake counties arrested 101 people over 11 days — including 2 Holly Hill women — in a prostitution and sex predator sting in which detectives posed as children between the ages of 12 and 14, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Tuesday.
Whitney Johnson, 19, and Jasmine Johnson, 22, both of of Holly Hill, were arrested in connection to the prostitution operation.
Lake County Sheriff’s Office investigators say that on May 25, Jasmine and Whitney Johnson arrived at an undercover residence the officers set up in Lake County. An arrest affidavit states that Jasmine Johnson agreed to have sex with an undercover detective for money, after which she handed Whitney Johnson $100 for driving Jasmine to the residence. Whitney Johnson told detectives that she keeps “watch” over Jasmine Johnson.
Both were transported to the Lake County Detention Center. After deputies had a difficult time attracting sexual predators to Polk County, Judd said the operation was moved to Lake County.
Judd spoke about the arrests at a press conference with Lake County Sheriff Gary Borders in Tavares on Tuesday. He said the operation was named “Operation: L and P” — for Lake and Polk counties — and lasted 10 days. There were two phases of the operation: cyber and prostitution. Judd said detectives used a vacant house in Clermont and used chat forums to pose as a child, a parent of a child or an individual looking for prostitution.
Twenty-two suspects were arrested in the cyberphase, which lasted seven days. “Their communications and desires were outrageous and deviant,” Judd said. “All 22 traveled to have sex and brought outrageous tools for deviant sex.”
Among those arrested in the cyberphase were two registered sexual offenders and employees from Universal, Disney’s Magic Kingdom and Sea World.
Another 79 suspects were arrested in the prostitution phase, which lasted four days. Judd said detectives were looking for victims of human trafficking and those advertising for prostitution.
Over the last two weeks, Judd said, 111 sexual predators have been arrested. Nine were caught in a child pornography sting and one was caught after kidnapping a Polk County girl.
“If you’re going to prey on children, the Florida sheriffs are going to come after you with a vengeance,” Judd said. “You never know from which county we’ll be looking for you.”
— Staff writer Casmira Harrison contributed to this report.