Over 100 people were arrested as part of a human trafficking operation in Florida, including Disney employees. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest on Wednesday as part of “Operation March Sadness 2,” which was a six-day operation. A total of 108 people were arrested, including four Disney employees who worked at the park in some capacity.
One woman was charged with human trafficking, four individuals were charged as alleged sexual predators who attempted to communicate sexual content to undercover officers acting as minors. Multiple individuals were accused of either offering or seeking prostitution.
The U.S. State Department estimates that at any given moment across the globe, 25 million people are victims of human trafficking in some shape or form.
According to authorities, the purpose of the operation was to free victims of human trafficking and identify and arrest individuals who were involved. One of the arrested Disney employees was 27 years old and was caught sending sexually explicit photos and messages to an officer posing as a 14-year-old girl online.
“The arrests of a human trafficker and four child predators alone makes this whole operation worthwhile. The online prostitution industry enables traffickers and victimizes those who are being trafficked. Our goal is to identify victims, offer them help, and find and arrest those who are profiting from the exploitation of human beings. Johns fuel the trafficking and victimization. Where there is prostitution, there is exploitation, disease, dysfunction, and broken families.” – Sheriff Grady Judd.
The oldest individual arrested was a 67-year-old male, and the youngest arrested was a 17-year-old male. Both of these individuals were charged with soliciting a prostitute.
The human trafficking suspect was a 32-year-old female from Orlando and was accused of threatening a woman with violence if she didn’t prostitute herself. She allegedly was going to take the victim’s money and was arrested when she went to check on the woman.
The sheriff’s office identified several online advertisements offering prostitution, and many of the arrests were made at the intended meeting locations.
Three Disney employees were arrested for soliciting a prostitute, and one was arrested for communication with a minor. Disney has placed all of them on unpaid leave, and one of the men identified as a Disney employee no longer works there.