On Yelp, a commenter praised the Taco Bell at 1830 South Federal Highway: “For anyone visiting Fort Lauderdale, I would highly recommend that they make sure to experience Taco Bell not only for the nourishment but also for an experience they won’t soon forget,” Dave. M. from Washington wrote.
His comment sounds like a double entendre in light of a recent sting operation. On Saturday June 19, drivers were offered a little extra with their crunch wrap supremes: $40 blowjobs and $50 sex in the parking lot. But it was part of a sting operation by Fort Lauderdale police to combat street-level prostitution.
An undercover detective posed as a prostitute waited along South Federal Highway in front of the Taco Bell. She was fitted with a listening device and another detective was recording her on video, though the audio was not recorded because of “technical difficulties,” according to a police report.
At 4:30 p.m., 58-year-old Joseph Sirgany slowed his truck and made a “beckoning head nod gesture,” the report states. He allegedly rolled down the passenger side window and asked, “You want to give me a blowjob for $40?” The detective gave a takedown signal and pointed the duped john toward the back of the Taco Bell, where he was arrested. Just 11 minutes later, 30-year-old Matthew Butler rolled down the passenger side window of his red Acura and asked, “How much to fuck for half an hour?” The detective replied,“$50.” The John allegedly agreed and was likewise arrested.
After the police lights brought attention to their activity, the detectives moved down the street to a much classier location, Lauderdale BMW of Fort Lauderdale, where they busted Luis Chaux for asking for a $20 blow job and Manuel Madalena for asking for sex for $40. At one point they brought out a male officer dressed as a John. They picked up 11 people by the end of the night — for prostitution or for soliciting. One of them had flakka in their possession.
“Street prostitution is not a serious issue in Fort Lauderdale,” says Fort Lauderdale police spokesperson Tracy Figone. “However, proactive prostitution operations are conducted to prevent street prostitution from becoming an issue and to prevent more serious crimes. Oftentimes street prostitutes are the victims of violent crimes perpetrated against them by ‘Johns’. Also ‘Johns’ have been targeted as victims of crimes by street prostitutes and their pimps.”
She said these stings are conducted regularly and that the locations are decided by “citizen complains, information from various other units within the department and detectives within the unit.”
Reached by phone, a Taco Bell shift leader who gave his name as Alfonso explained that he had never seen a prostitute in their parking lot before, nor was he aware that a sting operation happened there either. He asked other Taco Bell employees but none had seen a prostitute in the parking lot either. He figures they were too busy taking orders to notice. Besides, the sting happened during their evening rush hour.