More than 100 men arrested in Florida human trafficking sting – and ‘not one’ was a drag queen

Drag is not a crime

More than 100 men have been arrested as part of a human trafficking sting in Florida and not one was a drag queen, despite the state’s Republican lawmakers’ attempts to smear drag performers as a danger to children.

A three-month sting operation in the state led to 123 men being arrested after allegedly soliciting sex from undercover agents posing as minors, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office confirmed. 

Among the arrested was a church grief counsellor, an elementary school teacher, a nurse at a substance abuse clinic and a basketball coach, as reported by Advocate. 

Social media users were quick to point out that no drag queens had been arrested among the 123 people.

Taking to Threads, users ridiculed the anti-LGBTQ+, anti-migrant narrative spun by Republican politicians as baseless following the arrests.

“What – no drag queens, no immigrants that just crossed the border?” one person wrote.

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“OMG … note not a single drag queen,” another commented. 

“No drag queens again??!! Maybe they’re looking in the wrong place?” one user added, to which another responded: “That must be it, because I haven’t seen a single article about a drag queen getting busted for this s**t.”

Someone else posted: “Guessing not a single drag queen in the group.” 

Florida governor Ron DeSantis’ legislative efforts have seen Florida emerge as one of the worst states to live in as an LGBTQ+ person, with Equality Florida and the Humans Rights Campaign warning queer people to “reconsider” travelling to Florida last year. 

In May 2023, the Republican governor signed a controversial drag ban into law. The bill aimed to confer heavy fines and penalties – including the suspension or revocation of licences – on restaurants, bars and other venues that admit minors to a performance that “simulates nudity, sexual conduct or specific sexual activities”. 

A month later, a federal judge blocked DeSantis’ drag ban, warning that it was “dangerously susceptible to standardless, overbroad enforcement” and could have banned pantomime performances or Shakespearean plays. In response, Florida appealed to the US Supreme Court, which upheld the federal judge’s decision.

The anti-LGBTQ+ governor’s 2024 is off to a rocky start after he dropped out of the presidential race and thew his support behind Republic frontrunner and former president Donald Trump.

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said: “The work of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Human Trafficking Squad is not merely a job – it’s a mission, a mission to protect and preserve the very fabric of our community.” 

Chronister urged the community to stay vigilant and report any suspicious activities to 813-247-8200.