Broward County has a population of 1,700,000 and is located on the southeastern coast of Florida. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been persistent and well-documented problems in the county for decades. Prostitution-related homicides have also occurred in the county. Since 1988, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office has conducted many street-level prostitution stings using undercover police officers posing as prostituted women. The details of the operations and arrests are not always shared by law enforcement with the media, but have done so more foten from about 2015 forward. Community complaints help to spur police to conduct prostitution and sex trafficking operations, including reverse stings.
In October 2017, police announced the arrest of eight men rounded up during a “high visibility enforcement operation to combat prostitution activities in the City of Fort Lauderdale. Police say the targeted areas including the Sistrunk Corridor, Andrews Avenue, Flagler Village, Victoria Park and Holiday Park. The men’s identities were publicly disclosed. In a 2014 operation, a man was arrested and held on $8,500 bond after being charged with attempting to procure a minor for prostitution in a Fort Lauderdale Police sting. A member of the police department’s human trafficking unit contacted the 62-year-old suspect and posed as a 16-year-old named “Maria” who had been exploited for commercial sex. She exchanged several calls and texts with the man, who asked her for pictures of her body and she sent them along with pictures of another detective posing as a 15-year-old named “Kate,” according to police. A third undercover agent posed as a “John” who was looking to have sex with the girls, so the suspect arranged for a meeting.
A South Florida police chief was fired after being arrested at a motel during a sting operation conducted by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, for allegedly trying to arrange a threesome with an undercover officer. Detectives mounted the sting operation by placing an online escort ad that offered a “two-girl special,” in addition to price rates and a telephone number. The suspect first spoke by phone with the undercover officer who told him a 30-minute session would cost $60, but he struck a deal for two women for $100. He then showed up at the motel and was arrested after giving her $100.
Punishments that may be imposed upon those convicted of buying prostitution services in Broward County include sentences of up to 60 days’ in jail, over six months’ probationary supervision, and fines reaching $500. Multiple offenses can bring longer terms of up to five years’ incarceration, five years of probation, and fines of up to $5,000. Those found guilty of purchasing sex from a prostituted person will be subject different set of sanctions in addition to typical financial penalties, jail time and probation, including substantial community service requirements, mandatory testing for sexually transmitted diseases as provided by Fla. Stat. § 796.08, civil fines, and compulsory attendance at a human trafficking, sexual violence and/or prostitution awareness program. Third-time and subsequent offenders are classified as Second Degree Felons and as such can receive sentences of up to 15 years’ imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines.
- Broward County Sheriff’s Office
- Broward County Circuit Court
- Fort Lauderdale Police Department
- Pompano Beach Police Department
- Hollywood Police Department
- Reverse Stings:
- “Prostitution Sting Nets 15”, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, June 25 1989.
- “Vehicle Checks Scheduled”, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, August 29 1987.
- “BSO Arrests 15 in Hooker Sting”, Miami Herald, February 17 1991.
- “576 Arrests Made in One-Week Countywide Sting”, Miami Herald, August 1 1995.
- “Sex, Lies, and 596 Arrests; Authorities Wrap Up Prostitution Crackdown”, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, August 1 1995.
- “39 Arrested in Prostitution Sting”, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, September 1 1997.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets 39 Arrests in Broward”, Miami Herald, September 1 1997.
- “BSO Prostitution Sting Nets 11”, Miami Herald, March 24 1998.
- “Sex Sting Suspect Tries to Escape”, Miami Herald, January 28 2005.
- “Arresting? Not These Cops; Show Follows Female Broward Officers, But Offers Little That’s New”, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, August 2 2009.
- “204 Arrested in Drugs, Prostitution Sweep”, NBC/WTVJ-TV 6, August 27 2011.
- Web-Based Reverse Stings:
- Community Service:
- Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Police Say Group Used Florida Boys for Prostitution”, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, August 12 1988.
- “3 Plead Guilty in Sex Trafficking Ring”, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, August 25 2010.
- “Three Pimps Sentenced in Sex Trafficking Cases; Term-Limit Irony”, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, November 20 2010.
- “Two Accused of Human Trafficking in Plantation”, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, August 21 2013.
- “Third Suspect Held in Trafficking”, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, September 12 2013.
- “Crash Leads to Finding of Prostitution, Underage Sex, Police Say”, Orlando Sentinel, September 13 2013.
- “Crime Sweep Results in 180 Arrests, 288 Citations”, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, November 26 2013.
- “Sex Trafficker Faces Life in Prison”, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, September 11 2014.
- “Sex Trafficker Admits Guilt, Faces 15 Years,” Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, June 26 2015.
- “Jury Convicts Broward Man of Sex Trafficking Teens, Child Porn Charges,” Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, October 15 2015.
- “Judge Blasts Broward Man’s Lack of Remorse for Pimping Teens,” Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, January 4 2016.
- Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Couple Gets Probation for Call-Girl Conviction”, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, January 31 1985.
- “Judge Orders AIDS Tests for Sexual Offenders”, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, September 24 1985.
- “New Tricks in the Sex Trade”, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, April 9 1989.
- “Sheriff Seeks Tougher Laws to Fight Prostitution Fronts”, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, March 14 1990.
- “War on Prostitution Expands; Officials Get Tough on Property Owners to Stop Illegal Trade”, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, August 9 1990.
- “Crowd Demands Crackdown; Area’s Porn ‘Explosion’ Must End, Sheriff Told”, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, May 21 1993.
- “Pompano Beach Facing Battle Close City’s Adult Businesses; Laws Against Sex Shops Have Been Unsuccessful Countywide”, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, June 12 1995.
- “Broward Cities Renew Fight against Sex Businesses”, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, March 10 1998.
- “Cities Work to Clean Up U.S. 1; More Joint Stings, Shame, Used to Fight Rampant Prostitution”, Miami Herald, June 20 1999.
- “Prostitution Leaves Streets for Indoors; Storefront Salons on Rise in Unincorporated Areas”, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, February 3 2003.
- “132 Arrested in Two-Day Broward Crackdown”, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, November 8 2009.
- “Cops Bare All to Make Arrest”, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, April 21 2013.
- Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area: