Ruskin, FL

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Web stings
License suspension

Ruskin is an unincorporated community and census-designated place in Hillsborough County, Florida. It is part of the Tampa–St. Petersburg–Clearwater Metropolitan Statistical Area, and has a population of about 14,000.  Hillsborough County is a county of more than 1.3 million residents, and is located on the west coast of Florida. Prostitution and child sex trafficking have been well-documented throughout the county for decades. Associated problems include cases of child endangerment, such as leaving infants unattended in order to engage in prostitution.

Local law enforcement agencies have incorporated strategies to apprehend and deter sex buyers. These tactics include web-based stings, reverse stings, auto seizure, and the creation of a john school in Hillsboro County that can accept arrested sex buyers from anywhere in the county.  In June of 2019, a large scale, month-long prostitution sting operation throughout the county produced the arrest of 85 individuals. The undercover investigation started Jan. 1 and was called “Operation Trade Secrets.” The sting focused on hotels, motels, spas, massage parlors, strip clubs, adult bookstores and sex trade activities in Hillsborough County.  The Sheriff’s Office targeted “johns,” with undercover deputies soliciting for sex. But about half of the people arrested were women on charges of offering to commit prostitution.  The photos and other identifying information for the arrested individuals were included in news releases.  People were arrested in the communities of Brandon, Gibsonton, Ruskin, Seffner and Tampa. Some faced additional charges unrelated to human trafficking or prostitution, including possession of a controlled substance, lewd and lascivious behavior, possession of child pornography, practicing massage without a license, and child neglect.

In September 2020, a former principal at a local elementary school was arrested in Ruskin and charged with entering/remaining in place for prostitution, lewdness or assignation.  An attorney entered a not guilty plea on the man’s behalf. The man had been arrested at Sun City Park in Ruskin, where he allegedly approached an undercover detective and solicited sex.  A news release from HCSO identified the man as one of 11 men arrested by deputies in two Hillsborough County parks, as part of “Operation Park Cleanup.” All were similarly accused in the sting operation.  According to that news release, deputies focused their enforcement efforts on Sun City Heritage Park in Ruskin, and Sydney Dover Conservation Park in Dover because both “are known to deputies as points where men meet for sex.”


State Florida
Type City
Population 17208
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