WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – An Orlando-area doctor is among more than 100 people who were arrested during a six-day undercover sex sting in Polk County targeting human trafficking, sheriff's officials said.
The operation began Nov. 27 and ended Sunday, netting 103 arrests, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies said 56 of the arrests were on suspicion of advertising as prostitutes online, 30 were on suspicion of soliciting undercover detectives who posted ads posing as prostitutes, 11 arrests were on suspicion of deriving proceeds from prostitution, and six were on drug charges and other offenses.
Among the suspects was Dr. Sarat Sabharwal, 56, of Winter Park, who works as a urologist at The VA Hospital in Orlando and a trauma surgeon as needed, according to the sheriff's office.
Sheriff Grady Judd said Sabharwal, who is married, agreed over the phone and via text message to pay $100 to engage in a half-hour of sex. Deputies said when he arrived, he was still wearing his scrubs from the hospital. He was arrested and charged with soliciting another for prostitution, deputies said.
Sabharwal wasn't the only suspect with a spouse, according to the sheriff. Judd said of the 103 arrested, nine of them were married. Three of the suspects, Walter Leiva, Juan Loaisa and Yefri Guevara, are in the United States illegally and have been charged with soliciting a prostitute, according to Judd.
A 27-year-old man was also arrested and charged with human trafficking, sheriff's office officials said. Deputies said Anthony Camacho drove a 17-year-old girl from Virginia to Polk County for her to have sex. The girl, who deputies said had run away from home and referred to Camacho as "King," told detectives she had paid Camacho multiple times to drive her to meet up with people, according to a news release. Deputies said they have contacted the group One More Child to arrange for services to be available to her.
Two other potential victims of human trafficking were also taken into custody, according to the Sheriff's Office. One was charged with soliciting for prostitution and the other was charged with possession of marijuana, deputies said. Authorities said they are also working to have services available to them.
A 26-year-old Kissimmee man, identified as Edwin Lopez, is accused of arranging to meet up with and sexually batter someone he believed was a 14-year-old girl. Instead, he was speaking with an undercover detective. Deputies said he was arrested and charged with using a two-way communication device to commit a felony, traveling to meet a minor after using a computer to lure a child and lewd battery.
Wallace Sheppard, a 43-year-old U.S. Navy reservist in Jacksonville, and Jeffery Tacy, a 22-year-old student working at Disney's All Stars Movie Resort through the company's college program, were also arrested and charged with soliciting another for prostitution, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Judd said another man was in Orlando from Atlanta for his brother-in-law's funeral before he went out looking to have sex with a prostitute.
According to the sheriff, a 76-year-old man was wearing his oxygen tank when he was taken into custody.
Judd said before he was taken to jail, Ralph Myers asked, "Do you think the undercover lady would at least grope me before I go?"
Several others, whose names have not been released, are facing charges after the operation. Those arrested were charged with a total of 44 felonies and 130 misdemeanors, deputies said.
Authorities are still searching for a man they said traveled to have sex with a 14-year-old girl.
Deputies said 49-year-old William Welch drove to Polk County to meet the teen, but when detectives found his vehicle in the area, he had already fled on foot. A warrant has been issued for Welch on several charges, including traveling to meet a minor, using a two-way communication device, using a computer to solicit a child and attempted lewd battery.
Detectives worked closely with One More Child and the Department of Children and Families during the operation, which was the second in a series of similar stings.
Judd said if all his department did was get a few of the suspects behind bars, he would consider the operation a success because it protected and rescued possible victims of human trafficking.
The sheriff said there would be similar operations carried out in the future.