Gibsonton, 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

Gibsonton is an unincorporated community and census-designated place in Hillsborough County, Florida. It is part of the Tampa–St. Petersburg–Clearwater Metropolitan Statistical Area, and the town has a population of about 18,500. Hillsborough County has more than 1.3 million residents and is located on the west coast of Florida. Prostitution and child sex trafficking have been well-documented throughout the county for decades. Associated problems include child endangerment cases, such as leaving infants unattended to engage in prostitution.

Local law enforcement agencies have incorporated strategies to apprehend and deter sex buyers. These tactics include web-based stings, reverse stings, auto seizure, and creating a john school in Hillsboro County that can accept arrested sex buyers from anywhere in the county. In June 2019, a large-scale, month-long prostitution sting operation throughout the county produced the arrest of 85 individuals. The undercover investigation started on Jan. 1 and was called “Operation Trade Secrets.” The sting focused on hotels, motels, spas, massage parlors, strip clubs, adult bookstores, and sex trade activities in Hillsborough County. The Sheriff’s Office targeted “johns,” with undercover deputies soliciting for sex. But about half of those arrested were women on charges of offering to commit prostitution. The photos and other identifying information for the arrested individuals were included in news releases. They were arrested in the communities of Brandon, Gibsonton, Ruskin, Seffner, and Tampa. Some faced additional charges unrelated to human trafficking or prostitution, including possession of a controlled substance, lewd and lascivious behavior, possession of child pornography, practicing massage without a license, and child neglect.

State Florida
Type City
Population 18566
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