Polk County’s Largest Undercover Trafficking Operation
During a recent multi-agency undercover investigation, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrested 219 individuals. Dubbed Operation Traffic Stop 2, it was the largest crackdown on human trafficking activities on record in Polk County, Florida. One More Child’s Anti-Trafficking teams were on hand to evaluate the needs of victims, link them to essential community resources, offer clinical services, and guide survivors with a trauma-informed approach.
This substantial arrest sweep, detailed in a Fox 13 News report, underscores law enforcement’s efforts to combat this heinous crime. The arrests also signify a significant step forward in the ongoing fight against human trafficking, shedding light on how widespread the problem is and how law enforcement and organizations like One More Child are determined to aid survivors.
Hope for Trafficking Survivors
“Five Human Trafficking survivors were identified immediately and brought to safe shelter,” Jodi Domangue, One More Child’s Executive Director of Anti-Trafficking, said in a social media post – adding, “More than 20 [potential survivors] are still pending investigation with the hopes of being identified as victims, all were offered options for hope and a way out.”
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd highlighted Maria Guzman during a press conference as he commented on the sprawling operation. Charged with felony human trafficking, Guzman faces up to 30 years in prison.
“You always think of the guys being human traffickers, but she is the one facing a felony charge,” Sheriff Judd said from the podium in a press conference. Guzman met two of the survivors online, claiming to be searching for construction workers. She instead set appointments for sexual encounters. He went on to say, “She’s the one that was prostituting two young ladies. She was taking 60-70% of their money.”
Authorities also reported that out of the arrested individuals, 35 are suspected to be in the country without legal documentation. Among them, three were identified as victims of human trafficking. The individuals without legal status come from the Bahamas, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico, and Venezuela.
International Multi-Agency Support for Trafficking Survivors
Domangue also thanked the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), Heartland for Children (a community-based care agency), and My Name My Voice, an organization providing trauma competency and human trafficking training, for its partnership in serving the survivors recovered in this operation.
One More Child’s role in providing resources to survivors is part of a growing partnership with law enforcement and community-based care agencies. In 2022, One More Child’s Anti-Trafficking Mobile Teams provided immediate services for survivors recovered as part of Operation Full Haul 2, a seven-day undercover human trafficking operation led by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Vice Unit, resulting in the arrest of 160 people.
One More Child’s Anti-Trafficking Impact
In that same year, One More Child directly served 265 clients through 24/7 mobile teams, provided 1,000 meals to survivors, and impacted an additional 3,756 individuals through education, advocacy, and awareness efforts.
Earlier this year, One More Child collaborated with the United States Marshals Service (USMS) in Operation We Will Find You, a nationwide effort involving various state and local agencies. This operation led to the recovery and aftercare of 225 missing children, with 33 found in Central Florida. Over a period of more than two weeks, One More Child’s Anti-Trafficking Mobile Teams worked at recovery sites in Florida, delivering vital support and aftercare services to survivors.