Putnam 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

Putnam County is a largely rural area located south of Jacksonville, Florida, with a population of approximately 98,000. Prostitution activity has been well-documented in the cities and surrounding areas of the county. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates result in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses.

Consumer-level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. For example, in March 2018, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office announced the completion of “Operation Be Mine,” an undercover online child sex sting in Putnam County that led to the arrest of 14 men. The investigation targeted adults who preyed on children using social media and other forms of online communication. During the operation, the men either traveled with the intent to have sex with a minor or solicited a minor over the internet for sexual purposes. The suspects ranged in age from 18 to 63. Of those arrested, three were local, including a high school student in Putnam County. The Sheriff’s Office said some men drove as far as two hours away to sexually abuse a child between the ages of 11 and 14. A college student from Gainesville and a member of the Florida Army National Guard were among those arrested. A current inmate serving a life sentence was also charged with sending explicit photographs to a child using a cellphone he smuggled into the prison.

Putnam County Sheriff’s Office deputies also announced the arrest of a corrections officer who reportedly used Facebook to solicit a woman for sex. The man solicited sex from an undercover detective via Facebook Messenger, according to a police report. The report says he agreed to pay $75 and asked her to meet him at a local Circle K business on State Road 20. He texted the woman and said, “I am waiting for you” when he arrived. The man was then arrested and taken to the Putnam County Jail and charged with a misdemeanor for solicitation. His bond amount was set at $500.

In April 2022, four men were arrested by the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office in a street-level reverse sting conducted in Palatka. Undercover officers at various locations in Palatka and East Palatka notified deputies of solicitors on the sidewalks and then directed solicitors to a specific location where they were arrested. Each man was charged with soliciting prostitution and booked into the Putnam County Jail. Their names and other identifying information were released to the press.

Key Partners

  • Putnam County Sheriff’s Office
State Florida
Type County
Population 97668
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