16 arrested on prostitution, drug charges

Deputies: 1 suspect led investigators on chase


PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. – Sixteen people have been arrested in Putnam County on drug and prostitution charges as part of a two-week investigation, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Deputies said the majority of the arrests occurred between State Road 207 and Kane Road, along the Highway 17 South corridor.

The operation concentrated in the area after it became apparent to deputies that prostitution and drug crimes were increasing along the busy highway, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The operation netted 12 prostitution arrests, all of which occurred in East Palatka, after men approached an undercover female deputy and offered to pay her for various sexual favors, investigators said. They said in all of the arrests, only one suspect offered any resistance.

Deputies said Eligio Mendoza pulled into the Siesta Motel after he solicited an undercover deputy for sexual favors. As the arrest team moved in, Mendoza accelerated and nearly struck one of the deputies with the vehicle, investigators said.

They said Mendoza still refused to stop, and a vehicle pursuit ensued south on Highway 17 South. The pursuit ended when Mendoza's vehicle came to a stop at Highway 17 and Horse Landing Road, deputies said.

They said Mendoza then fought with the deputies and refused to allow the deputies to handcuff him.

Mendoza is currently being held in the Putnam County Jail without bond pending a hold placed on him by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.