Cape Coral, 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

Cape Coral is a city of approximately 205,000 residents in the Fort Myers metropolitan area in Lee County. Sex trafficking and prostitution have been well-documented problems in the city, and the region, for decades. Local cases have included child sex trafficking, the murder of prostituted women, and the robbery and murder of sex buyers. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates result in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. For example, in August 2009, police closed down a Cape Coral barber shop run by two brothers who allegedly sex trafficked young girls there. Neighbors said they suspected the Barber Shop because customers often came and went without a haircut. Investigators raided the business and arrested the brothers, who had allegedly sexually abused minors and offered them to clients in a back room. Police initiated an operation when a suspect in an unrelated drug case showed them a cell phone video of one of the men sexually assaulting the girls.

In June 2010, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit announced they had conducted a county-wide prostitution operation dubbed “Operation Summer Rain”  focused on individuals soliciting sex via internet sites. Several targets were surveyed by investigators, including a home on 36th Terrace, Cape Coral, next to Ida Baker High School, that had been converted into what detectives described as a “sexual torture chamber.” In 2015, 15 individuals were arrested as the result of a multi-agency, two-year-long sex trafficking investigation. According to reports, the investigation was initiated in 2013 after the Collier County Sheriff’s Office discovered a sex trafficking victim during a traffic stop. Investigators later identified six more female sex trafficking victims who had been transported into the United States and lured into the sex trafficking operation. The sex trafficking ring operated in Collier, LeeHendryPolk, and Miami-Dade counties.

Consumer-level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. In an effort to reduce prostitution activity in the city and the sex trafficking and other ancillary crimes it generates, various demand reduction tactics, such as reverse sting operations, have been deployed. In response to a survey conducted in 2021 by the NCOSE team for a National Institute of Justice grant to update and expand Demand Forum (Grant #2020-75-CX-0011), representatives from the Cape Coral Police Department reported that they had used males as the decoy prostituted person and arrested female sex buyers in more than one operation.

Cape Coral Police had also collaborated on large-scale regional sex trafficking operations. For example, in April 2021, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department led an operation resulting in the arrest of 79 men for violations related to human trafficking – among those arrested was a church pastor and a girls’ basketball coach. Local partners in “Operation Takedown” included the Cape Coral Police Department, the Lakeland Police Department, and the Sheriff’s Offices of Orange, Pasco, and St. John’s counties.

Key Sources

2021 National Assessment II Survey

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Local Sex Trafficking and Prostitution:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Florida
Type City
Population 204510
Comments are closed.