Disney employees and former judge among 108 arrested in human trafficking sting
By: April Carson
During a sex-trafficking, prostitution, and child predator operation in Polk County, Florida, dozens were arrested, according to detectives. Of those arrested, 108 were men and only two were women. The individuals ranged in age from 19 to 68 years old.
According to the sheriff's office, the majority of the suspects came from Central Florida. However, some drove in from as far away as South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama.
According to a news release from the Orange County Sheriff's Department, "Operation March Sadness 2," which began on March 8 and ended with 108 arrests, was conducted over six days. Four Disney workers were among the suspects, authorities said.
"This was a statewide operation that targeted individuals who were seeking to have sex with children," said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd in a news release. "We arrested them before they could victimize any children."
“Xavier Jackson, 27, a lifeguard at the Polynesian Resort for Walt Disney, allegedly exchanged explicit photographs and messages with an undercover police officer who pretended to be a 14-year-old girl. He was charged with three counts of transmitting harmful material to a minor and one count of unlawful communication, according to CBS News.
“Judd identified the three others, who were said to be attempting to hire a prostitute, as Wilkason Fidele, 24, who worked at the Cosmic Restaurant in Walt Disney World's Tomorrowland for four years; Shubham Malave, 27, who is on a visa citizenship from India and worked as a software developer for Disney; and Ralph Leese, 45, who spent nearly four years working in IT for Disney.”
Undercover cops established up a meeting with the suspects and communicated online with them before they were caught.
A Florida couple was sentenced to 90 days in jail after they were caught having sex for $1,000 outside of Bradenton.
“This entire operation is worthwhile just because the captures of a human trafficker and four child predators,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said during a press conference on Wednesday. “Where there is prostitution, there is exploitation, disease, dysfunction, and broken families.”
Human trafficking is a $150 billion industry and Florida ranks third in the nation for calls made to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
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