6 arrested in Starke prostitution sting

STARKE, Fla. – Six people were arrested in connection with a prostitution and vice operation last week in Starke.

Police said they began using a website Thursday for escort services in Gainesville and Jacksonville. They made contact with three separate services offered in advertisements and set up three appointments with an undercover officer at a local hotel.

Four women were arrested Friday night on prostitution charges when they showed up, police said.

Those arrested were 32-year-old Michelle Treece, of Yulee, 23-year-old Linda Lewis, of Jacksonville, and 32-year-old Sarah Walsh and 34-year-old Amy Franssen, both of Gainesville. Walsh also faced drug charges.

While conducting the operation, there were external surveillance members observing the vehicle arrivals and the suspect approach, police said. During the operation involving Lewis, the external surveillance units saw Lewis in a white passenger vehicle.

Police approached the vehicle with two men inside and separated them to conduct interviews.

One of the men, Jeremiah Jones (pictured, right), became physically violent while being interviewed by Sgt. James Hooper, pushing the investigator without warning, police said. They said he attempted to flee on foot, lowering his shoulder as he ran into Officer Samantha Clark, causing her to fall back. He then turned from that impact, which redirected him back toward Hooper, police said.

Jones dropped his shoulder and tried to ram Hooper, who attempted to restrain him, police said. They said he then head-butted Hooper in the face, causing Hooper to release him.

Additional officers restrained Jones, who continued to violently resist, police said, striking with closed fists, kicking and head-butting.

After being handcuffed, Jones was still resisting and head butted Lt. Gorman, who had arrived on the scene to assist, police said. After gaining control of Jones, he was searched and a plastic bag was located that contained a white powdery substance, which tested positive for cocaine, police said. They said the substance weighed 28.8 grams.

The second man, identified as Roudoloshire John Henry Brown, was restrained during the initial onset of Jones' resistance.

Jones, 29, of Jacksonville, was charged with 8 counts of battery on a law enforcement officer, cocaine trafficking, tampering with evidence, resisting an officer with violence, and transporting a person to a place for the purpose of prostitution.

Brown, 26, of Jacksonville, was charged with resisting an officer without violence.

"In an effort to crack down on the illegal activities associated with Internet crimes within our community, we see the dangers associated with those crimes no matter how minor they appear," Chief Jeff Johnson said in a news release. "We were out to address prostitution and encountered apparent drug users with a syringe, trafficking amounts of cocaine, crack cocaine, and violent individuals from locations as far away as Yulee, Jacksonville and Gainesville. Break the silence. Talk to your kids. Report suspicious activity to law enforcement."