Filed Under: U.S.

“Operation March Sadness 2” human trafficking sting leads to 108 arrests

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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.

Jimmie Johnson: FOUR DISNEY EMPLOYEES AND A FORMER JUDGE ARE AMONG THE
MORE THAN 100 PEOPLE WERE ARRESTED IN POLK COUNTY, FLORIDA IN JUST THE LAST 10 DAYS.
IT WAS ALL A PART OF AN UNDERCOVER HUMAN TRAFFICKING STING CALLED “MARCH SADNESS 2.”
THE SIX-DAY INVESTIGATION TOOK PLACE EARLIER THIS MONTH AND TOOK A HANDFUL OF CHILD PREDATORS OFF THE STREETS.
Chief Jim Elensky | Haines City Police Department: “We got four actual predators this time. And no matter how long these these events take place, I don’t know how long it’s going to take before people understand that Polk County is not going to tolerate it. So just one, one predator would have been worth the event.”

Jimmie Johnson: THE SUSPECTS FACE A RANGE OF CHARGES THAT INCLUDE HUMAN TRAFFICKING, SEX SOLICITATION, AND CHILD PREDATING.
FOUR OF THE MEN ARRESTED ARE DISNEY EMPLOYEES.
INVESTIGATORS SAY ONE OF THE FOUR WAS COMMUNICATING WITH A FOURTEEN-YEAR-OLD GIRL ONLINE AND OVER TEXT.
Sheriff Grady Judd | Polk County: “Oh, did I mention that he just happens to be a lifeguard at the Polynesian resort for Disney. You think there’s a few children around there? That’s right. I didn’t stutter. He was a lifeguard at the Polynesian resort for Disney and was bragging about that.”
Jimmie Johnson: DISNEY TOLD MCCLATCHY NEWS THE FOUR EMPLOYEES HAVE BEEN PLACED ON UNPAID LEAVE.

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.

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