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Press release: 18 ARRESTED, 2 TEENAGERS IDENTIFIED DURING BIKETOBERFEST OPERATION TARGETING PROSTITUTION & HUMAN TRAFFICKING
An undercover Sheriff’s Office operation targeting human trafficking and prostitution during Biketoberfest resulted in 18 arrests and identified two minors who were posting ads on adult websites.
The operation ran Thursday, Oct. 13, through Sunday, Oct. 16, at two rental locations in the New Smyrna Beach area. During the operation, detectives arrested 6 men and 12 women on various charges ranging from soliciting or offering prostitution, to narcotics possession, to violation of probation.
In the case involving two minors, 27-year-old Richard Brown (DOB 6/30/1995) of Lauderhill was arrested on charges including child neglect and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Undercover detectives identified two 17-year-old girls from Broward County who said they were staying at a hotel room Brown rented for them.
Due to the circumstances, detectives initiated a human trafficking investigation. In their interviews, both girls indicated they were voluntarily posting the ads and were not forced into doing so. Brown admitted he knew the girls were exchanging sex for money, but said he had no involvement other than finding them a hotel room and allowing them to use a relative’s vehicle to travel around the area.
One of the girls had an active warrant and was transported to the Department of Juvenile Justice, while the other was turned over to her father’s custody.
Sheriff Mike Chitwood said similar operations will be repeated in the future, particularly during special events in the area. “Even if these two teenage girls were the only cases we found, this operation would have been well worth the effort,” Sheriff Chitwood said. “Visitors to our area who are in the market for this kind of exploitation need to know we’ll be out there undercover again and again.”
Not every defendant was arrested on prostitution-related charges. A Cape Coral man spotted dropping off two female defendants at the scene of the undercover operation was charged with violation of probation for breaking his court-ordered curfew. A New Smyrna Beach man on probation with a special condition restricting him from bars was arrested after detectives saw him leave a bar with a woman in the passenger seat of his truck. During a traffic stop, deputies found a large plastic bag under the driver’s seat containing several smaller bags of cocaine.
Additional charges against other defendants included possession of fentanyl, bath salts, and methamphetamine.