SARASOTA -- Sarasota police, working with the FBI, said they arrested three people on prostitution-related charges as part of the national Operation Cross Country on Thursday.
The operation, which the FBI conducts in partnership with local police, is a nationwide sex trafficking sweep that targets street-level prostitution, Internet prostitution, human trafficking entities, underage prostitution and adults attempting to lure children for sex via the Internet. Operations were conducted in 106 cities and resulted in the recovery of 168 juveniles and the arrest of 281 suspected pimps nationwide.
In Sarasota, Jessel Rajesh Patel, 25, was arrested on felony charges of using a computer to solicit and travel to meet a minor, traveling to meet a minor after using computer to lure a child and using a communication device to facilitate lewd and lascivious battery, all charges associated with being a pimp, according to Sarasota police. Patel is a citizen of the United Kingdom.
Whisper Morton, 30, was charged with felony prostitution, and Jessica Fisher, 29, was charged with a prostitution misdemeanor, according to police. Morton received a felony charge due to three prior prostitu
Undercover officers made the arrests Thursday on North Tamiami Trail, according to a report.
"The Sarasota Police Department was proud to be invited by the FBI to participate in this operation and vows to keep up efforts to uncover entities involved in human trafficking and prostitution within the city of Sarasota," said Sgt. Demetri Konstantopoulos. "Prostitution is not a victimless crime on any level."
Police said no juveniles were involved in the operation in Sarasota.
The Manatee County Sheriff's Office said they took no part in the FBI operation, and the Bradenton Police Department said though they worked with the FBI, they'd received no reports of related arrests in the Bradenton area.
Operation Cross Country is part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative that was established in 2003 by the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division to address the growing problem of child prostitution, according to the FBI's website.
To date, the FBI and its task force partners have recovered nearly 3,600 children from the streets. The investigations and subsequent 1,450 convictions have resulted in lengthy sentences, including 14 life terms and the seizure of more than $3.1 million in assets.