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2 arrested in Fort Myers prostitution bust

Investigators performed a sting operation where kids play.

Feb. 18, Fort Myers Police Department undercover detectives conducted a prostitution bust and arrested suspects Epifano Reyna-Zarate, 55, and Delsa Pena, 39.

We learned from police reports Tuesday students were getting off their school bus when the sting happened on Marsh Avenue.

We were at the scene the day investigators went in and out of a home for hours. We now know they took several items as evidence. We have not confirmed what those items are at this time.

What we do know is there are a lot of kids who live near the home where the arrests took place, and neighbors told us they were concerned kids witnessed a prostitution bust right in their backyard.

Undercover police cars lined the street. Police surrounded a Marsh Avenue home. That’s what one neighbor says his 8-year-old son witnessed as he got off of his school bus Thursday afternoon.

Police say the scene marked the end of an undercover operation at a house used for prostitution.

According to a police report, an undercover detective with the state attorney’s narcotics enforcement task force posed as a john and connected with Reyna-Zarate, pretending to ask for prostitution services.

When a detective asked what kind of girls they had to offer, Reyna-Zarate said, “We have all kinds of girls, young ones, old ones, not too young, or they’ll put me in jail.”

“This isn’t the first time that they were arrested, so they knew what some of the charges could potentially be if they bumped into law enforcement again as they did and something like having underaged girls could have brought additional charges,” explained Rich Kolko, WINK News Safety & Security Specialist.

When the undercover detective got inside of the home, he received a blue marble in exchange for his cash. Then, Reyna-Zarate took him to a room Pena was inside.

Kolko says the size and effort police put into the operation could point to a bigger case.

“This would have been a lot of time and effort for a simple prostitution case,” Kolko said. “There’s been a big push in Florida to combat human trafficking so we would bring in a task force like this which has a state level prosecutor to maybe see if something like that is going on here as well.”

The state attorney’s narcotics enforcement task force that led the operation focuses on dismantling long-term organized crime, narcotics and racketeering, as well as money laundering criminal enterprises.

Reyna-Zarate and Pena both face prostitution charges. Both bonded out of Lee County Jail and are expected to be back in court in March.

Reporter:Breana Ross
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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