Tampa, FL

Tactics Used

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

Tampa is known to have substantial activity in sex trafficking and prostitution, and cases of prostitution-related homicide.  The city and its partners from the county and neighboring communities have pursued a wide range of strategies focusing on the demand for commercial sex as a means of combating prostitution and sex trafficking, including both street-level and web-based reverse stings, a john school, SOAP orders, shaming, vehicle seizures, neighborhood based efforts, and public education.

Tampa has arrested johns with enough regularity to supply a john school program with participants in the early to mid 2000s, but by about the end of 2008 the police department turned their attention to other priorities, and rarely conducted reverse stings.  While not disbanded, there were insufficient numbers of johns arrested, and few referrals to the john school.  Reverse stings appear to have been conducted at least one per year between 2010 and 2014.  Since about 2017-2018, the frequency appears to have increased, and some recent operations have been large-scale.  For example, between December 7, 2020 and January 9, 2021, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office conducted “Operation Interception,” a set of investigations and stings intended to deter sex trafficking leading up to the 2021 Super Bowl in Tampa.  On January 11, 2021 the Sheriff’s Office  announced the arrests of 71 individual sex buyers during the undercover operation.

Exclusion Zones (SOAP Orders)

In February 2012, Tampa established an exclusion zone that applies to johns as well as those providing commercial sex.  The Prostitution Enforcement Zone covers the area from Fowler Avenue to the north, Seventh Avenue to the south, North 15th Street to the east and Florida Avenue to the west.  The zone applies to people who have been charged for the third time (or more) with a prostitution offense. Upon a third arrest, the misdemeanor prostitution charge can be upgraded to a felony and the State Attorney’s Office can ask judges to put offenders on probation and ban them from the area. Exceptions would be limited to activities like visiting a doctor or buying groceries.


Key Sources


State Florida
Type City
Population 336823
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