Leesburg, 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

Leesburg is a city of approximately 23,000 residents, located in central Florida’s Lake County, roughly equidistant between Ocala and Orlando. Prostitution activity, occurring both at street level and within adult-oriented businesses, has been documented in the community for several years. Cases of forced prostitution – or sex trafficking –  have also been reported. In October 2014, Leesburg drew significant media attention when it was reported that a city resident had murdered and then bragged about killing a prostituted woman in nearby Brevard County.

To address these and other crimes, the Leesburg Police Department has adopted a strategy that includes tactics to identify and apprehend sex buyers. The department has conducted street-level reverse stings since at least 1998. During one operation, conducted in 2000, two female undercover officers posed as decoys along streets in the city’s downtown area. Six men and a teenage boy were arrested and charged with solicitation as a result. Although the identities of the offenders were not released, the Orlando Sentinel reported in May 2002 that the LPD had begun distributing the names of individuals arrested for prostitution-related offenses to the public.

In addition to reverse stings using police decoys, sex buyers may be arrested for alleged crimes against real victims.  For example, in July, 2022 a Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy was arrested for soliciting prostitution. A confidential source had contacted the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and reported a friend was being paid by a deputy for sex. Detectives launched an investigation and found the 40-year-old woman who claimed she had been solicited by the deputy. The woman said she met the man when he responded to a domestic dispute, and they aexchanged phone numbers during the call for service. Two days after the exchange of phone numbers the woman received an unsolicited photograph from the Deputy’s personal phone number which showed him standing in front of a mirror while completely nude. A day or two later he called her to see if she wanted to “hang out.” She told the detectives that the Deputy picked her up and asked her for sex. He drove to a Circle K where he withdrew cash. then drove to a Home Depot parking lot where they had sex. He paid the woman $80, according to the affidavit. In addition, the woman told the detectives that she was paid $80 by the man for sex in the parking lot of a Walgreens pharmacy in Tavares, and another time in a vacant house in Leesburg on or about Jan. 14. She said that the Deputy was on duty and in uniform when they had sex. The deputy admitted the nude photo sent was his picture, and that he had sex with the woman, but said he only gave her money for food. A search warrant for his cell phone revealed that he had texted the woman when he stated, “Oh yeah. I’m definitely coming by. Is 80 cool again?” and suggested returning to Walgreens for the rendezvous.

Key Sources

Sex Buyer Arrests, Identity Disclosure:

Street-Level Reverse Stings:

Identity Disclosure:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

Background on Prostitution, Related Crimes in the Area (e.g., drug offenses):

State Florida
Type City
Population 23142
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