BARTOW -- Detectives arrested 61 people during a four-day undercover investigation into sex trafficking in Polk County.
The investigation began Thursday and ended Sunday, targeting online ads for prostitution. The 61 suspects ranged between 18 and 68 years of age. Detectives said one of the suspects was over six months pregnant, while another had a 3-year-old child in the car.
Sheriff Grady Judd runs these operations on a regular basis, but this time he took a new approach. Judd said detectives were looking specifically for women forced to work as prostitutes.
"Why aren't we doing this all over the state and the nation?" Judd asked during a press conference Monday. "Why isn't every law enforcement agency aggressively looking for these victims of human trafficking?"
In this operation, Judd said he believes two of the accused prostitutes were victims of human trafficking. One of the women said she was assaulted after she got out of jail and refused to continue to work as a prostitute. Judd said the woman also said she ran from her pimp's car on the side of the Polk Parkway, which is where she was spotted by an officer.
Judd also said he believes the undercover operations caught on video are worth the work.
"Don't we owe it to them morally?" he said. "Don't we owe it to them to save them?"
The women who are identified as possible victims of human trafficking are offered counseling and help to get back to a normal life.