Brevard County, FL

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Brevard County on the east coast of Florida, and has a population of approximately 600,000.  The county seat is Titusvile, and other population centers within the county include the cities of Melbourne, West Melbourne, Palm Bay, and Cocoa. Prostitution and sex trafficking cases in the county date back decades, and have generated many other crimes, such as kidnapping, assault, homicide, robbery, weapons and drug offenses, and the production of child sexual abuse materials (CSAM). For example, in July, 2022, two people were arrested and held in the Brevard County jail, and accused of lewd and lascivious acts and human trafficking. Investigators said that three girls under the age of 18 were recruited online and paid for sexual acts — acts that were recorded on video. Residents of Vero Beach and Palm Bay both faced charges of lewd and lascivious battery, human trafficking, and “use of a child in a sexual performance.” The minors were first solicited through Instagram and other social media sites, asking for sex acts and video recordings, which led to obtaining the acts of commercial sexual exploitation and production of child sexual abuse materials (CSAM). The suspects rented hotels for those crimes in West Melbourne and Palm Bay (both within Brevard County). The investigation started earlier in 2022 year based on a report from potential victimization of a juvenile resident of a group home. The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office discovered videos on the child’s phone, that contained CSAM. Prostitution related violence documented locally include the homicide of prostituted women, and police officers being stabbed by prostitution survivors.

The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office has been collaborating with city police departments since at least the 1980s to address the demand for prostitution and sex trafficking.  For example, in Melbourne police have conducted reverse stings and began releasing the names of those arrested for solicitation of prostitution in 1986.  Joint sting and reverse stings are still conducted on a periodic basis, driven in part by community complaints to police about prostitution.  An operation in Melbourne in December 2012, for example, resulted in the arrest of one prostituted woman and three male sex buyers. Following their arrest, their identities were publicized in local media outlets. Similar operations each year in 2020-2022 produced similar results.

In Cocoa, police have conducted several street-level reverse stings since 1991 using undercover women officers posing as prostituted persons in order to capture sex buyers. The men arrested have had their names, ages, and hometowns reported in the media. For example, in March 2017, undercover police officers playing the role of both providers and clients seeking commercial sex. The sting/reverse sting was part of a joint undercover operation involving Cocoa and Melbourne police and was focused in and around the area of Peachtree Street in Cocoa. The operation was one of many stings and investigations taking place on the Space Coast over the prior year as agencies focus on various methods of diminishing the sex trade in Brevard County, from online ads to street solicitation of prostitution and sex trafficking.  In February of 2019, an undercover operation was conducted in Brevard County after few citizen complaints regarding prostitution and other illegal activity in the area of Peachtree St. and Blake Avenue.  After verbal agreements were established, police moved in on the suspects to make the arrests.  Following their arrest, their identities were publicized in local media outlets.

Under Florida law, every person convicted of Solicitation of Prostitution must complete 100 hours of community service, attend a prostitution and human trafficking awareness course (i.e., “john school”, undergo screening for sexually transmissible diseases, and pay a $5,000 civil fine.  In addition to those mandatory penalties for those with a conviction for Solicitation of Prostitution, a judge can also impose additional penalties based upon whether a person is a first time offender or a repeat offender, including jail, probation, vehicle impoundment, and increased fines.

Loss of employment is another consequence of buying sex that has occurred in the county.  For example, in September, 2015, two Brevard County sheriff’s deputies were fired for being customers of a prostituted woman who was the target of a bust two weeks previously that left a sheriff’s agent critically injured. The firings were reportedly the result of information uncovered after the shooting. The Sheriff’s Office said the deputies’ names were revealed as agents combed through evidence in the investigation of the shooting. The evidence included a suspect ledger and phone records that revealed that both deputies were “customers” of the prostituted woman.  The allegations against the men were sent to the State Attorney’s Office for review, with a recommendation that their law enforcement certifications be revoked.

In April, 2016, the president of a private foundation resigned soon after his arrest for soliciting prostitution.  He was one of 11 men charged in a prostitution sting operation conducted by the Brevard Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations unit. The president of the Health First Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Health First, was arrested on charges of soliciting prostitution in Palm Shores.  The man was released on $500 bond after the arrest.

Key Partners

  • Brevard County Sheriff’s Office
  • Cocoa Police Department
  • Melbourne Police Department
  • Titusville Police Department
  • Health First


Key Sources

Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Loss of Employment; Identity Disclosure:

Background on Local Prostitution, Sex Trafficking, Related CSAM:

Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Florida
Type County
Population 601542
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