Walton 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

Walton County is located on the Emerald Coast in the northwestern part of Florida and shares a southern border with the Gulf of Mexico. Walton County has approximately 75,000 residents. Prostitution and sex trafficking, particularly conducted online and involving minors, are well-documented problems in Northwest Florida, including Walton County. Among the tactics used to respond to these crimes are those targeting the buyers of commercial sex. In an operation conducted in late February 2018, police began monitoring smartphone apps and online ads. The internet crimes against children task force used this information to find sex offenders in the area. During the five-day operation, the police arrested eight suspects, all allegedly responding to online ads and engaging in conversations with undercover officers posing as minors. The suspects arranged meetings with someone they believed was a child and were taken into custody when they arrived at the designated meeting locations to buy sex. The five-day operation was conducted at an undisclosed location in Walton county. Among those arrested was a registered sex offender from Pensacola; and a man who had allegedly engaged in a conversation with an undercover officer posing as a 14-year-old girl, in which he had asked for a photo of her breasts, according to the arrest report. The identities, including photos,  of all eight men were released to the public.

Some cases of the local sex trade have involved child sexual abuse materials (CSAM, often called “child pornography” in state criminal laws). For example, in March 2018, a parent informed deputies that their 15-year-old daughter had sent nude photos to a 27-year-old man out of Fort Walton Beach in exchange for Amazon gift cards. Deputies then took over the girl’s online identity and began exchanging texts with the suspect. They told the suspect numerous times the victim was 15 years old. He responded by saying he liked the fact that she was 15, according to an arrest affidavit. He then made several statements, sexual in nature, that indicated he wanted to engage in sexual activity with the victim. When he arrived to have sex with her, he was arrested.

Key Partners

  • Walton County Sheriff’s Office
State Florida
Type County
Population 75305
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