TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A couple’s honeymoon was cut short this summer after the husband left his new wife to solicit a prostitute, authorities in Florida said.
The suspect, a 34-year-old male, was among the 176 people arrested for alleged sex crimes following a monthslong prostitution sting in Hillsborough County, according to Sheriff Chad Chronister.
During his honeymoon, the man answered an ad from an undercover detective posing as a prostitute, Chronister said Thursday at a news conference.
“He got married. He got married and he was on his honeymoon,” Chronister said. “His new bride falls asleep, and he decides he’s going to respond to an ad that one of our [undercover officers] had placed to go have sex that evening. So he leaves, and comes to the hotel and wishes to purchase sex.”
Chronister said the man was arrested “immediately.”
“I know we all probably have questions about how long this marriage lasted, but I think the only question here, with it ending so quickly, as a wedding guest — was it too late to get the gifts that they gave returned back to them?” Chronister said.
The investigation, which netted 176 arrests in total, was launched in April by deputies within the Human Trafficking Squad of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. The squad focused its investigation on men soliciting adult prostitutes and also those looking for sex with underage victims. The sheriff’s office said most of the sting suspects were facing charges related to solicitation of prostitution.
Among the 176 arrested, the sheriff’s office said it had arrested ten “Johns” who had inappropriate conversations or shared inappropriate pictures and videos with undercover detectives who they thought were minors.
Detectives also found two missing teens who traveled from Massachusetts to Tampa with two of the suspects. One was found with an adult, sleeping in a vehicle at a grocery store, and the other was found at a hotel with one of the alleged traffickers.
“We believe these two individuals, these two men are responsible for trafficking many more women,” Chronister said. “I’m not able to say more without jeopardizing it [the investigation].”
The teens, ages 16 and 17, were taken into protective custody and will be reunited with their parents. All three suspects were arrested, Chronister said.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office launched its Human Trafficking Squad in June 2021. To date, the sheriff’s office credits the squad with 380 arrests and the rescue of eight victims.