Law enforcement officials in Polk County, Florida have stated that a total of 114 suspects were arrested as the result of a six-day undercover operation titled “Operation Not So Silent Night.” The goal of the operation was to identity and break apart an alleged sex and human trafficking ring in the region.
The vast majority of the arrests brought about charged related to prostitution, either for offering sex acts for compensation or for offering compensation for sex acts. Some suspects were also charged with battery due to how they allegedly groped undercover police officers. At least two people were arrested for using the internet to conduct sex crimes with a minor and attempt to commit more with a minor in person. The collective 114 suspects apparently have a total of 600 charges for previous crimes on their records; the median amount of charges per suspects was not released.
Detectives did not openly advertise most of the suspect’s names and identities – all can be found online through police department uploads – but they have largely singled out one man, Matthew Phillips, for being the Director of Elementary Curriculum for the Osceola County School Board. It is believed but not 100% confirmed that he was charged with soliciting prostitution and battery. Phillips’ position on the school board has undoubtedly led to the police’s decision to make him a centerpiece of their announcements.
After the Sting, Defense Begins
The 114 suspects are each now tasked with created their own individual defenses against their charges. For undercover stings of this scale, the question of legitimacy of police tactics is always brought into question. Sometimes charges can be dismissed if there is enough reason to believe that evidence was collected improperly or without warrants. It would also appear that many suspects were not in full understanding of their rights as accused individuals since so many gave detailed testimonies about why they had shown up at the undisclosed sting location and even went as far as to include what they were supposed to be doing instead that day; one man apparently told detectives his wife was scheduled to go into labor in just a few hours.
If you require hard-hitting defense that is not afraid to take on investigators and prosecutors, you need The Wiseman Law Firm. Our Orlando sex crime attorney provides highly-rated, trial-tested advocacy backed by 15+ years of experience to people throughout Florida, including Polk County. Contact our firm online to schedule your free consultation as soon as you can.