The sheriff’s office in Polk County, Florida, which covers much of the area southwest of Orlando and east of Tampa, announced 108 arrests in connection with a 6-day human trafficking sting dubbed “Operation March Sadness 2.” According to a Polk County Sheriff’s Office news release, the sting started last Tuesday.
“Detectives identified prostitutes who posted online advertisements as well as the ‘johns’ who were seeking out the prostitutes via online communications, with the intent to identify and free any victims who were being forced into prostitution (human trafficking), or anyone participating in the trafficking of victims,” the office said in the news release. “Detectives also identified and investigated adults who engaged in on-line sexually charged communications with those they believed were children—four men were arrested for preying on children online.”
According to the Miami Herald, in addition to those four:
- One woman was charged with human trafficking.
- 26 people were charged for offering sex work.
- 75 people were charged with soliciting sex.
- Two people are now facing unrelated charges.
“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. “Where there is prostitution, there is exploitation, disease, dysfunction, and broken families.”
At a Wednesday news conference, Sheriff Judd said four of the arrests in the human trafficking sting involved Disney employees. The most notable of those is Xavier Jackson, who was one of the four accused child predators.
“Jackson…communicated online and via text with an undercover detective posing as a 14-year old girl,” the news release said. “During the communication, Jackson sent sexual images and graphic descriptions of what he wanted to do.”
At the news conference, Judd went on to say that Jackson was employed as a lifeguard at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, something he was allegedly “bragging” about during conversations with the undercover detective.
According to the Herald, a Walt Disney Company spokesperson told McClatchy News the four employees have all been placed on unpaid leave.