Dozens arrested in Polk County online sex sting

- You never know who the Polk County Sheriff’s Office is going to net when it goes trolling for prostitutes and johns. This time, Polk’s Sheriff Grady Judd says he got one of his own guys.

“We are absolutely unequivocally embarrassed, but this is a clear indication that everyone is held accountable,” said Judd.

During his latest crackdown, dubbed “Operation No Tricks, No Treats,” his deputies arrested Sgt. Luis Diaz, a 17-year veteran of the force. During that time, Diaz had taken part in undercover operations just like the one he was nabbed in.

Judd says Diaz recognized the voice of the undercover deputy on the phone, or she recognized his, so Diaz was arrested at his home.

“He apologized for putting us in that position and immediately resigned from the sheriff’s office,” said the sheriff.

The operation was the biggest of its kind for the Polk Sheriff’s Office, and netted 277 people -- suspected prostitutes, johns and others.

The suspects include a cancer surgeon who works at Tampa General Hospital, an internist in residence at Lakeland Regional Health, several pharmacists, and a colonel in the United States Marines.

Even though Judd’s undercover sting operations get a lot of attention, there seems be no lack of people who get caught up in them.

When asked why, Judd simply stated, “Sex sells. It is the most powerful thing in the world, and it brings down kingdoms.”

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