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Volusia County is located in the east-central part of Florida, including the coastal area northeast of Orlando and south of Jacksonville. It is part of the Deltona–Daytona Beach–Ormond Beach metropolitan area, its population is over 500,000, and its county seat is DeLand. Commercial sex activity has posed considerable problems in the community for decades, and has been linked to cases of suspected sex trafficking, incidents of child endangerment, and targeted sexual assaults and homicides of sex sellers.
Among the efforts to address such problems are those intended to reduce the level of consumer demand that drives all commercial sex and sex trafficking by providing its revenue. For example, in February 2017, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office conducted a two-day prostitution operation, during which undercover agents arrested four women accused of prostitution and eight men accused of soliciting their services. The second day of the sting featured agents posing as prostituted women. The men were charged with soliciting, inducing, enticing or procuring another to commit prostitution, lewdness or assignation. The identities of the men were publicly released.
The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office has often collaborated with the Daytona Beach Police Department, targeting sex buyers in street-level reverse stings since 1977, and web-based stings since 2005. Large-scale reversals are frequently conducted, using one or more undercover female officers as decoys. An example of a combined sting/reverse sting occurring in November 2013. On the first day, undercover male officers conducted a street-level sting, arresting 10 women. The next day in the same area, 10 men were arrested after agreeing to pay for sex with an undercover female officer, posing as a prostituted person. The names and ages of the arrestees were publicized.
In March 2015, an undercover “child sex predator sting” in Volusia County led to 43 people being arrested for targeting children for sex, prostitution or distribution of “child pornography” (child sexual abuse materials). Of the 43 arrested, 22 men were caught on camera approaching a decoy house where a team of undercover officers were waiting for them. Each of the suspects thought they had made arrangements to meet a child for sexual abuse. Called “Operation PredaTour,” the undercover sting involved officers posing as children online, waiting to be propositioned. Decoys identified themselves as a child age 14 or younger, and men ranging in age from 20–59 years old traveled from all over Florida to meet what they believed to be an underage girl.
In October, 2022, an undercover human trafficking and prostitution sting led to the arrest of 18 people and identified two minors who were posting ads on adult websites. Volusia County Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested six men and 12 women at two rental locations in the New Smyrna area for various charges ranging from soliciting or offering prostitution, to narcotics possession, to violation of probation.
The names and identities of those arrested for prostitution are reported to the media, and have been since 1987. Arrested sex buyers may also have their license suspended or vehicle seized, depending upon the circumstances of arrest. As of September 2010, sex buyers may also have a letter from police mailed to their home address. Dubbed a “Dear John” letter, it notifies all residents of the individual’s illegal behavior and provides information about STDs/STIs that he is at high risk of contracting through prostitution.
- Volusia County Sheriff’s Office
- Daytona Beach Police Department
Reverse Sting, Identity Disclosure:
- “17 Arrested in Daytona Beach Prostitution Sweep”, Daytona Beach News-Journal, November 29 2013.
- “29 Men, 6 Women Charged with Prostitution Offenses During Sting”, Daytona Beach News-Journal, March 7 2014.
- “Father Arrested for Prostitution with Toddler in Car, Police Say”, NBC/WESH-TV 2, March 11 2014.
- “14 Men Snagged in Reverse Daytona Beach Prostitution Bust”, Daytona Beach News-Journal, May 13 2014.
- “Daytona Beach Police Arrest 10, Including Local Basketball Star, in Reverse Prostitution Sting”, Daytona Beach News-Journal, June 10 2014.
- “Police: Man Caught in Prostitution Sting Had Child in Car”, Daytona Beach News-Journal, July 18 2014.
- “Police: Man Caught in Prostitution Sting Had Child in Car,” NBC/WESH-TV 2, July 18 2014.
- “4 Arrested in Daytona Beach Reverse Prostitution Sting”, Daytona Beach News-Journal, September 6 2014.
- “12 Men Rounded up in Daytona Pre-Biketoberfest Prostitution Sting”, Daytona Beach News-Journal, October 16 2014.
- http://www.orlandosentinel.com/os-volusia-12-arrested-prostitution-sting (2017)
- https://www.clickorlando.com/18-arrested-including-teens-in-human-trafficking-sting-during-biketoberfest-volusia (2022)
Web-Based Reverse Sting, Cameras:
- “Police Crank Up Prostitution Battle in Daytona Beach”, Daytona Beach News-Journal, July 18 2000.
- “Daytona Makes Progress on Fighting Prostitution”, Daytona Beach News-Journal, February 12 2001.
- “Daytona OKs Plan to Seize Cars Used in Prostitution”, Daytona Beach News-Journal, February 22 2001.
- “Police Charge Several in Prostitution Sting”, Daytona Beach News-Journal, July 25 2002.
- “New Weapon Fights Sex Trade”, Daytona Beach News-Journal, September 28 2003.
- “Prostitution Arrests Come with Letter”, Video, NBC/WESH-TV 2, September 14 2010.
- “Police to Send Letters Detailing Prostitution to ‘Johns’”, NBC/WALB-TV 10, September 15 2010.
- “Police Send STD Info to Suspects in Prostitution Sting”, Daytona Beach News-Journal, September 16 2010.
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Daytona Beach Prostitution Sting Using Craigslist.org Nabs 7”, ABC/WFTV-TV 9, September 14 2007.
- “Ex-DCF Investigator Starts 12-Step Program to Help Prostitutes Change Their Lives,” Daytona Beach News-Journal, January 4 2016.
- “5 Women Arrested in Daytona Beach Prostitution Sting,” Daytona Beach News-Journal, February 25 2016
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Hooker Says She’ll Weather the Storm”, Daytona Beach Morning Journal, September 30 1977.
- “4 Georgians Face Sexual Battery Charge”, Daytona Beach News-Journal, April 16 1996.
- “2 Face Charges for Sex Trafficking”, Orlando Sentinel, August 27 2014.
Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- “Girls Cop Pleas in Murder Case”, Daytona Beach Morning Journal, March 23 1978.
- “Daytona Man Pleads Guilty to Murder”, Daytona Beach Morning Journal, June 6 1978.
- “Teenage Murderess Weeps at Sentence”, Daytona Beach Morning Journal, July 1 1978.
- “Man Is Charged with Murder”, Daytona Beach Morning Journal, January 26 1980.
- “Cop’s Instincts, Persistence Uncovered Chain of Murder”, Daytona Beach Morning Journal, October 4 1982.
- “Confessed Killer Blames Alcohol”, Palm Beach Post, October 6 1982.
- “Confessed Killer Says Women Entered Car Willingly”, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, October 6 1982.
- “Stano Leads Police to Site Number 32”, Lakeland Ledger, October 28 1982.
- “Lucky Break Led to Capture of Gerald Stano”, St. Petersburg Times, December 14 1982.
- “Police”, St. Petersburg Times, December 14 1982.
- “Police Seek Assailant in 3 Rape Cases”, Daytona Beach News-Journal, July 20 1988.
- “Prostitute’s Deals Turn Deadly, End in Vacant Field”, Daytona Beach News-Journal, August 20 1989.
- “Prostitution: A Dangerous Business; Sex, Drugs and Death: Fast Life Wore Down Twin”, Daytona Beach News-Journal, August 20 1989.
- “Police Search for Suspect in Two Killings”, Ocala Star-Banner, August 9 1990.
- “Blow to Head Killed Woman Found in Woods”, Daytona Beach News-Journal, August 10 1990.
- “Drifter Charged in Florida Murder”, Ocala Star-Banner, September 7 1991.
- “Rape Suspect Surrenders to Police”, Daytona Beach News-Journal, September 3 1992.
- “Suspect in Sexual Assault Turns Self In”, Daytona Beach News-Journal, September 5 1992.
- “Search on for a Daytona Killer”, Gainesville Sun, March 19 2006.
- “Preliminary Autopsy Results Reveal Little About Woman’s Death”, ABC/WFTV-TV 9, October 22 2007.
- “Daytona Beach Police On Serial Killer’s Trail”, Orlando Sentinel, February 11 2008.
- “Are 19 Slayings Along I-4 the Work of Serial Killers?”, Orlando Sentinel, January 11 2010.
- “Police: Men Attack Woman, who Placed Backpage Ad, at Daytona Motel,” Daytona Beach News-Journal, December 31 2014.
- “Deputies: Rape Suspect Person of Interest in Daytona Woman’s Death,” Daytona Beach News-Journal, October 6 2015.