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Immokalee is an unincorporated community and census-designated place of about 28,000 residents in Collier County, located in southwestern Florida roughly 35 miles southeast of Fort Myers. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been well-documented locally and in the county, resulting in complaints to law enforcement. For example, in March 2015, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office assisted the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in arresting 15 people after an investigation into a sex trafficking ring that operated from central to southern Florida. The investigation began in 2013 after the Collier County Sheriff’s Office identified a human trafficking victim during a traffic stop. Further investigation revealed several women were smuggled into the country with promises of legal jobs and being reunited with family, but were then forced to work as commercial sex slaves performing sex acts on 25 to 45 men per day, six days a week.
Although no proactive sting operations have occurred in Immokalee, there have been opportunistic sex buyer arrests locally. In January 2011, a man and woman were arrested on prostitution charges after being caught having sex in an abandoned shed in Immokalee. A Collier County sheriff’s deputy observed the woman walking through a field after 11 p.m. when two men gestured for her to come closer. He could not hear them talking, but said the area was known for crime — especially prostitution. The deputy followed them to a nearby abandoned shed and stopped their actions. The woman was charged with prostitution and the man was charged with aiding, abetting, or committing solicitation of a prostitute. Their identities were released to the press.
In December 2015, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office arrested a man and a woman on prostitution charges after responding to a domestic disturbance in Immokalee. Deputies responded to a call of disturbance when two people were heard shouting in an apartment, and later learned that the man had shouted to the woman earlier that afternoon as she rode past his apartment on her bike, asking her if she would engage in a sex act with him for $20. The woman said he did not pay after their deal and he grabbed her in a violent manner when he tried to make her leave the apartment. Both were arrested after deputies listened to a voice recording of the argument the man had recorded on his cell phone. The woman was charged with prostitution and the man was charged with prostitution and battery. Both of their names, identities, and mugshots were released to the press.
- Collier County Sheriff’s Office
Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure:
- https://archive.naplesnews.com/news/crime/mug-shots-immokalee-woman-man-arrested-in-prostitution-case (2011)
- https://archive.naplesnews.com/news/crime/immokalee-pair-arrested-on-prostitution-charges (2015)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/story (2004)
- https://fortmyers.floridaweekly.com/articles/immokalee (2009)
- https://www.news-press.com/fdle-arrested-human-trafficking (2015)
- http://swflorida.blogspot.com/15-arrested-in-sex-tafficking-and (2015)
- https://www.colliercountyfl.gov/Home/Components/News (2015)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
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