Working with the FBI, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office conducted a two-day prostitution sting in which 17 arrests were made.
Operation Cross Country VIII, which partnered with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, was an effort involving federal, state and local law enforcement agencies targeting prostitution and aiming to address child sex trafficking.
Nationwide, 106 cities located in 54 FBI field divisions, participated in the operation, which netted the recovery of 168 children, who were victimized through prostitution. Also, 281 pimps were arrested on state and federal charges.
Pasco Sheriff's Office detectives focused their efforts on the New Port Richey area during the two-day undercover operation.
Related: 98 arrested during Polk undercover prostitution investigation
"We want to ensure all of our citizens feel safe in our community," Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said. "Some say prostitution is a victimless crime, but many times it's a means used to fuel a drug habit. The most unfortunate part of it all is young kids, against their will, have been swept into that lifestyle. We're here to stop it."
Operations in the FBI's Tampa Bay area region, which includes Pasco County and stretches as far east as Osceola County, as far south as Lee County and as far north as Orange County, netted a total of 85 arrests.
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