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WUSF's coverage of Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Feb. 7, 2021.

Hillsborough Operation Targets Human Trafficking Ahead Of Super Bowl In Tampa

Chad Chronister/Twitter

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister announced the arrests of 71 individuals as part of "Operation Interception."

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister on Monday announced the arrests of 71 individuals as part of an undercover operation targeting human trafficking ahead of the Feb. 7 Super Bowl in Tampa.

“Operation Interception” was a month-long investigation into human trafficking, according to a news release.

From Dec. 7, 2020, until Jan. 9, 2021, Hillsborough County detectives worked undercover, posting online ads offering sex for money. Female detectives also posed as prostitutes.

"With less than a month until the big game, our covert operations continue, seeking those who choose to sexually exploit others here in our community,” Chronister said in the release. “Our goal, as the operation name explains, is to ‘intercept’ individuals involved in sexual exploitation before they are able to take advantage of vulnerable individuals, and ultimately, to deter others."

The individuals arrested face charges of soliciting another to commit prostitution or entering/remaining in a place for prostitution. Some face additional charges, including drug possession.

Chronister said the investigation, in part, was an effort to deter the arrival of those who travel to large-scale events such as the Super Bowl “for the exclusive purpose of taking advantage of women and children,” according to the release.

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