Flagler 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
Flagler County is a county on the east coast of Florida, in the Deltona–Daytona Beach–Ormond Beach metropolitan area. Its population is approximately 115,000, and its county seat is the city of Bunnell. Prostitution activity has been well-documented in the city, surrounding communities, and other areas of the county. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates result in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses.

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. For example, in December 2017, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office conducted an internet-based reverse sting; in which, an undercover deputy posted an ad on backpage.com, using “verbiage consistent with similar posts” advertising prostitution. After posting the ad, the undercover officer’s phone began ringing immediately. They received over one hundred phone calls from both men and women, along with numerous text messages displaying genitalia. Twelve men who responded to the ad arranged to meet at a hotel in Palm Coast to buy sex and were arrested. One of the suspects offered the undercover deputy crack cocaine in exchange for sex. He was already on probation and had arrived at the meeting point with 4.2 grams of crack and 1.5 grams of a heroin/fentanyl mixture. The men ranged in age from 19 to 66, and their identities were disclosed in press releases. Police at the time noted that sex buyers are at risk of being attacked and robbed while they engage in the crime of prostitution.

In June 2021, an undercover operation centered around human trafficking led to the arrest of 13 people on prostitution-related charges, according to the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office. Eight of the arrested were men charged with soliciting prostitution. Investigators said the operation focused on individuals soliciting prostitution services online, on websites specifically used for prostitution advertisements, transporters and handlers, and people interested in getting services from these individuals. During the operation, investigators were also able to rescue a human trafficking victim. The operation was a collaboration of the Special Investigations Unit, Homeland Security Investigations, and the PACE team. The identities of all arrestees – including the eight male sex buyers – were publicly disclosed. In March 2022, a similar operation produced the arrest of six male sex buyers.

Key Partners

  • Flagler County Sheriff’s Office
State Florida
Type County
Population 115378
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