State Watch

Disney employees among those arrested in Florida human trafficking operation

Several Disney employees and a former judge were among the more than 100 people arrested in connection with a Florida human trafficking operation, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office announced on Wednesday.

The sheriff’s office’s vice unit arrested 108 people, including several sex predators and people seeking sex workers, during “Operation March Sadness 2,” according to a news release. The six-day sting began on March 8.

Among those arrested was Daniel Peters, a retired judge and a special assistant for legal affairs at the Cook County Sheriff’s Office in Illinois who was charged with soliciting a sex worker, according to CBS News.

Additionally, three worked for Disney in different capacities, CBS reported. Xavier Jackson, who is accused of sending sexual images and messages to an undercover detective posing as a 14-year-old girl, was a lifeguard for the Polynesian Resort. Also among those arrested were Wilkason Fidele, who worked at a restaurant at Walt Disney World’s Tomorrowland and Ralph Leese, who worked in information technology for the company. 

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said the arrests of a human trafficker and four child predators alone made the “whole operation worthwhile.”

Sex workers identified by detectives during the operation were evaluated by anti-trafficking organizations to determine if they were human trafficking victims and were offered services and counseling, the sheriff’s office noted.

“The on-line prostitution industry enables traffickers and victimizes those who are being trafficked,” Judd said in a statement. “Our goal is to identify victims, offer them help, and find and arrest those who are profiting from the exploitation of human beings.”

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

Tags Disney Disney Florida Human trafficking Sex crimes

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