Eighteen arrested, and two teens identified during a Biketoberfest operation.
Written by Kristen Schmutz
Belden Communications News
The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office conducted an undercover operation during Biketoberfest targeting human trafficking and prostitution that resulted in eighteen arrests and identified two minors posting ads on adult websites.
According to reports, the operation ran from Thursday, October 13, through Sunday, October 16, at two rental locations in the New Smyrna Beach area, where detectives arrested six men and 12 women on various charges ranging from soliciting or offering prostitution, to narcotics possession, to violation of probation.
Not every defendant arrested was charged with prostitution.
A Cape Coral man was spotted dropping off two female defendants at the scene during the undercover operation and charged with a probation violation for breaking his court-ordered curfew. A New Smyrna Beach man on probation with special conditions 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.
In the case involving two minors, 27-year-old Richard Brown of Lauderhill was charged with child neglect and contributing to the delinquency of a minor when undercover detectives identified two 17-year-old girls at a hotel room both girls were staying in that 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 not forced into doing so. Brown admitted he knew the girls were exchanging sex for money but said he was not involved in the activities besides finding them a hotel room and allowing them to use a relative’s vehicle to travel around the area. One girl was returned to her father’s custody, while the other had an active warrant and transported to the Department of Juvenile Justice.
Similar operations will occur 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,” Volusia County Sheriff Mike 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.”
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