Hillsborough County Sheriff Unveils Impactful Results of 90-Day Anti-Trafficking Operation, Rescuing 28 Victims.


The Hillsborough County Sheriff announced the conclusion of a 90-day operation targeting human trafficking, resulting in over 120 arrests and the rescue of 28 victims.

Sheriff Chad Chronister marked National Human Trafficking Awareness Day on January 11, 2024, by providing details on the arrests and the ongoing efforts of the HCSO’s Human Trafficking Section, established in 2021.

Chronister stated that since its inception, the Human Trafficking Section has made 604 arrests related to human trafficking, with 36 specifically charged for human trafficking.

Authorities primarily targeted individuals attempting to solicit or pay for sex with trafficking victims in the remaining arrests, classified as “human trafficking-related charges.”

Throughout the 90-day undercover operation, the primary focus was on online predators specifically targeting minors.

Detectives, posing as minors or parents selling children for sex, engaged with suspected traffickers and would-be clients.

Chronister recognized the increased likelihood of children being online with schools out during the holidays, which prompted the operation to be carried out during that time.

Moreover, he highlighted the diverse backgrounds of those arrested, encompassing individuals in positions of trust and authority.

Notably, James Villacorteza, a former science teacher at James Elementary School in Tampa, was mentioned as an example.

The sheriff commended the department’s success in assisting human trafficking victims, stating that the Human Trafficking Section had rescued 28 individuals by removing them from traffickers, providing medical attention, and helping them overcome substance abuse.

Chronister concluded by encouraging anyone in need of help to call the human trafficking hotline at 1-888-373-7888 and emphasized the availability of additional resources for those seeking assistance.

Video: FULL PRESS CONFERENCE: Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister updates on 90-day human trafficking operation.