Of the 159 suspects arrested in a nationwide crackdown on child sex trafficking are two Jacksonville suspects.
And local law enforcement tells us this is just one more step in fighting a continually evolving problem.
“It really, truly is a problem that goes on in any city and every city, not just in the United States but nationwide,” says JSO Lieutenant Scott Dingee.
Dingee says prostitution, human trafficking, and child sex trafficking is an area in which we are fortunate enough to have resources exclusively dedicated to investigating and cracking down.
“If more resources are put to this problem and put working towards addressing this problem- you see what can be done in just two days,” he says.
The weekend sting led to 159 arrests of alleged “pimps” in 76 US cities. Some 105 children, as young as 9-years-old, were identified as victims. An FBI release indicated one person was arrested in Jacksonville, but JSO says two were in fact arrested over the weekend. Dingee says one of the biggest problems in fighting this crime is the constant evolution.
“When most people think of prostitution, they think of girls, by themselves, on the street corner, in some of the more well-known areas of town that have that reputation. But in today’s day and time, that’s just not the case,” Dingee says.
He says a lot of the prostitution transactions happening now are on the internet, leading to a completely different way of investigating than just a decade ago.
“Technology has changed the way that the criminals do business, so we have to change the way we do business,” he says.
Part of that comes with the way they investigate. He says they use the internet heavily to track and crack down on what is happening locally. The responsibility can also fall on you to help, however. He says if you see any suspicious activity you can call JSO or the Human Trafficking hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
WOKV is continuing to investigate these arrests. We have requested information from the FBI regarding the local suspects and the charges they face. We will update you as more information becomes available.