One-hundred and eight people were recently arrested in a six-day undercover human trafficking operation in Florida. Among those arrested were several Disney employees and a retired judge. Four child predators were also arrested in the operation.
“The arrests of a human trafficker and four child predators alone makes this whole operation worthwhile,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said in a statement.
According to The Christian Post, in early March, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office vice unit led “Operation March Sadness 2” in Florida.
Detectives were able to identify prostitutes who posted online ads and individuals posting in search of prostitutes. The sheriff’s office also found adults who engaged in online sexually charged communications with those who they believed were children.
Undercover agents posted online as “children” and then planned meetings with suspects before they were arrested.
Four of the men were specifically targeting children, including Xavier Jackson, 27. Jackson had previously worked as a lifeguard at Walt Disney World’s Polynesian Resort.
As part of the sting operation, Jackson reportedly sent inappropriate photos of himself to an undercover detective who was pretending to be a 14-year-old girl.
Other Disney employees charged were Wilkason Fidele, 24, who tried to solicit a prostitute. Fidele worked at the Cosmic Restaurant at Walt Disney World’s Tomorrowland. Shubham Malave, 27, and Ralph Leese, 45, were also arrested for trying to solicit a prostitute. Malave had worked as a software developer for Disney, and Leese worked in IT for Disney.
Disney told CBS News that Leese, Fidele and Jackson had been placed on unpaid leave. Malave is no longer employed by Disney.
“The online prostitution industry enables traffickers and victimizes those who are being trafficked,” Judd said. “Our goal is to identify victims, offer them help, and find and arrest those who are profiting from the exploitation of human beings. ... Where there is prostitution, there is exploitation, disease, dysfunction and broken families.”
Other arrests in the operation included a married father of eight who left his child at a soccer game to meet a prostitute, a 66-year-old former judge, and a woman who threatened another woman if that woman did not prostitute herself.
“What amazes me is we could do another operation starting next week and fill this board up again,” Judd said. “And be sure of one thing: These chiefs and I will do just that. We’ll be back, and if you violate the law, we’re going to take you to jail. That’s a guarantee.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Caspar Benson
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.