Leon 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

Leon County is a county in the Panhandle of the state of Florida. Its county seat is also the state of Florida’s capitol, Tallahassee, FL, and has a population of approximately 293,000 residents. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been identified by law enforcement as pervasive problems in the county, in addition, there have been reports of residential complaints to police regarding prostitution-activity in certain neighborhoods. Among the more serious crimes associated with prostitution in the county is child sex trafficking. For example, in June of 2021, the U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of Florida announced that a Tallahassee man was convicted in Federal court of coercing or enticing a minor to engage in prostitution. The man was was convicted following a two-day trial, and faced, “a mandatory minimum term of ten years imprisonment to Life imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and a maximum term of Life on supervised release.” The offender’s conviction was a result of the Tallahassee Police Department’s Operation Stolen Innocence, a multi-agency coordinated effort by the United States Marshals Service, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, and the Office of State Attorney-Second Judicial Circuit. In addition to instances of child sex trafficking, the Leon County Sheriff’s Office has received numerous complaints regarding suspected instances of prostitution occurring at local massage parlors. For example, in 2016, officials conducted three separate operations focused on prostitution and sex trafficking within local massage parlors. All three operations were as a result of residential complaints and resulted in prostitution-related arrests.

In response to the wide range of crimes associated with local prostitution and sex trafficking, local police departments such as the Tallahassee Police Department, have targeted consumer-level demand for commercial sex by conducting street-level reverse stings since at least 1989, if not earlier. The Leon County Sheriff’s Office has also been known to conduct web-based stings in more recent years. For example, in October of 2011, the Leon County Sheriff’s Office and the Tallahassee Police Department were amongst multiple other law enforcement agencies that participated in “Operation Tallyop”, a web-based operation led by the North Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. The operation resulted in the arrest of 35 men seeking to sexually exploit minors in exchange for money. In 2020, the Tallahassee Police Department announced the results of a two-year long sex trafficking investigation called, “Operation Stolen Innocence,” that resulted in the arrest of 178 individuals, 72 arrests for charges of solicitation of prostitution. The Leon County Sheriff’s Office was amongst other agencies that participated in the operation.

Sex buyers have also been arrested outside of operations specifically targeting offenses of prostitution and sex trafficking. For example, in 1989, a night janitor at Cobb Middle School was arrested after attempting to solicit sexual acts from a 15-year-old girl. The Leon County Sheriff’s Office conducted an investigation after the 15-year-old girl reported the incident to police. He was arrested two weeks later and booked at the Leon County Jail.

Employment loss is also a consequence of sex buying the occurs in the county. For example, in October of 2019, a physical education teacher at Montford Middle School located in Tallahassee, FL, reported his arrest to the Leon County School District, per policy, whereupon the sex buyer was immediately placed on paid administrative leave. The former teacher was arrested on four misdemeanor counts of solicitation, according to court records. The district later transferred the man to Woodville PK-8 School, where he similarly worked with middle school students. In 2020, the offender was arrested again on, “three counts of lewd and lascivious behavior involving a 13-year-old girl and unlawful use of a communication device in furtherance of the crime.” He was held at the Leon County Detention Center on a bond of $10,000 for each of the three lewd and lascivious counts and $1,000 on the communications charge. He was once again placed on paid administrative leave due to his arrest.

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings:

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Buyer Arrests:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Documented Violence against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

Sex Buyer Fired or Resigned Due to Arrest:

State Florida
Type County
Population 292897
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