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Punta Gorda is a city of about 20,000 residents in Charlotte County, located south of Sarasota on Florida’s Atlantic coast. Commercial sex activity, often arranged online, has been reported in the county for decades years. Among the related crimes has been drug offenses (e.g, possession of fentanyl, methamphetamine) and minors being solicited for commercial sex acts (i.e., sex trafficking) by local adult residents. In their efforts to curtail prostitution, local law enforcement have utilized some demand-reduction tactics. For example, in October, 2016 , the Punta Gorda Police Department and the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office collaborated on a prostitution sting at the Punta Gorda Waterfront Hotel and Suites, resulting in eight arrests. Law enforcement set up a dummy account on backpage.com and offered services under the name “Madi.” The men who responded to the ad and eventually negotiated to pay for sex were arrested. The identities of the arrested persons were publicly disclosed.
- Punta Gorda Police Department
- Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office
Web-Based Reverse Sting, Identity Disclosure:
- https://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20161021/youth-soccer-coach-caught-in-prostitution-sting-steps-down (2016)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Police Beat; Alleged Poolside Proposition Brings Arrest,” Charlotte Sun, September 30 2002.
- “Man Accused of Molesting Girl,” Sarasota Herald-Tribune, October 1 2002.
Background on Prostitution, Related Crime in the Area:
- “Woman Arrested for Prostitution,” Sarasota Herald-Tribune, March 2 1996.
- “Woman Is Arrested in Prostitution Case,” Sarasota Herald-Tribune, February 28 2000.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets Three Arrests,” Charlotte Sun, March 1 2008.
- “Attorney: Raids that Netted Alleged Prostitutes Illegal; Port Charlotte Business Targeted by Sting Hints at Lawsuit,” Charlotte Sun, March 6 2008.
- “Police Bust Suspected Prostitution House; Man Reportedly Advertised Services on Internet,” Charlotte Sun, November 16 2008.
- “Police: Internet not Safe Haven for Prostitution; Authorities Cracking down on Online Solicitation,” Charlotte Sun, November 23 2008.
- “Sting Leads to Growing Litany of Arrests,” Sarasota Herald-Tribune, February 28 2009.
- “North Port Police Beat; Suspected Prostitute Arrested,” Charlotte Sun, June 26 2009.
- “Charlotte Police Beat; North Port Man Faces Prostitution Charge,” Charlotte Sun, October 18 2009.
- “Prostitution Stings Net Several Arrests,” Englewood Sun, December 2 2010.
- “4 Prostitution Arrests at Health Spa,” Charlotte Sun, February 19 2011.
- “Venice Woman Arrested in Prostitution Sting,” Venice Gondolier Sun, July 2 2011.
- “MUGSHOTS: Two Women Arrested in Sting at Port Charlotte Massage Parlor Sensations,” Bonita Daily News, February 18 2012.
- “Two Arrested in Prostitution Sting,” Charlotte Sun, May 2 2012.
- “Punta: Four Arrested in Prostitution Sting,” Charlotte Sun, May 19 2012.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets 3 Arrests,” Charlotte Sun, August 30 2012.
- “Report: Man Advertised Girlfriend as Prostitute,” Charlotte Sun, September 5 2014.
- https://www.fox4now.com/eight-arrested-in-punta-gorda-prostitution-sting (2016)
- https://ccsoblog.org/2018/06/21/taiji-massage/ (2018)
- https://nbc-2.com/charlotte-county-prostitution-sting-leads-to-multiple-arrests/ (2022)
- https://www.yoursun.com/four-women-arrested-in-punta-gorda-as-part-of-prostitution-investigation (2022)
Local Prostitution Ordinance: