A newlywed was caught in a prostitution sting after he left his wife sleeping to sneak out and meet a sex worker while on their honeymoon in Florida.
Paul Turovsky, a 34-year-old business manager from Fort Myers, arranged online to meet someone he believed to be a prostitute and pay them for sex, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO).
Then, when his wife fell asleep in their hotel room, he allegedly escaped to carry out the act.
But, unbeknownst to Mr. Turowski, he was actually speaking with an undercover detective with the HCSO’s Human Trafficking Squad.
When he arrived at the Hyatt Hotel in Tampa for the meeting, Mr. Turowski was arrested and charged with soliciting another to commit prostitution.
Speaking at a press conference Thursday, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said, “The only question here was, as a wedding guest, was it too late to return the gifts they gave?”
The newlywed is just one of at least 360 suspects arrested by the group since June 2021 as the department tries to crack down on human trafficking, including child trafficking.
Sheriff Chronister said 176 men were arrested in the past three months alone – most of them facing charges related to solicitation of prostitution, sometimes with minors.
The arrests are part of a major sting that first began in April when investigators posted a fake online ad pretending to be from a father who wanted to traffic his 14-year-old daughter for sex.
The sheriff said the response to the ad had been “pretty overwhelming”.
Similar ads were also placed online and suspects responded to them, striking up conversations with undercover detectives and arranging to meet.
“When you read the communication that these individuals wanted to do with these young boys or wanted to do with these young girls, it’s disgusting,” he said.
As part of the sting, two teenage girls, ages 16 and 17, were rescued from the clutches of two traffickers in Tampa.
The teenagers had disappeared from their homes in Massachusetts and were taken to Florida by the two men, police said.
Investigators found one of the men with one of the girls sleeping in a vehicle at a local grocery store, while the second suspect was at a nearby hotel with the second girl and another male suspect.
All three men were arrested and the missing teenagers were taken into protective custody.
The sheriff said the agency is now working with federal law enforcement to determine if these men are also involved in other human trafficking cases.
Another group of 10 men were also arrested for trying to force the children to have sex with them.
“When presented with the opportunity to meet, some did not take the bait, while others got into their cars and drove, hoping to meet with a juvenile,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release.
“Instead, they luckily came face to face with our MPs and were quickly arrested.”
In total, eight victims of human trafficking have been rescued by the group since it began operations last year, with one victim being taken to rehab, another returned to her mother and another provided a plane ticket to return to her family in another state.
The sheriff vowed that the department’s work is far from over and that it will continue to track down offenders involved in human trafficking and soliciting prostitutes.
“We believe that if we exhaust the demand, there will be no human trafficking because no one will be able to take advantage of a young child, a young girl or boy or any adult, because there will be no demand for it,” she said. he said.