Disney employees among 108 arrested in human trafficking sting

‘Where there is prostitution, there is exploitation’, says sheriff

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Three employees of Disney World are among 108 people arrested by police as part of an operation targeting human traffickers.

On Wednesday, police in Polk County said 108 people were arrested as a result of “Operation Madness 2”, with five police agencies as well as Florida’s Department of Children and Families working together.

Police sought to “identify and free any victims who were being forced into prostitution (or human trafficking), or anyone participating in the trafficking of victims”. Suspects were then invited to meet with undercover police before being arrested.

Walt Disney World confirmed to The Independent on Thursday that three Disney employees were among those arrested, including 27-year-old Xavier Jackson, who has been charged for making contact with a child inappropriately.

Mr Jackson, of Kissimmee, was charged with three counts of transmitting harmful material to a minor and one count of unlawful communication after messaging police, who were pretending to be 14-year-old girl. He also sent “sexual images and graphic descriptions of what he wanted to do”, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

Two other Disney employees arrested in the sting were Wilkason Fidele, 24, and Ralph Leese, 45, who were charged with attempting to solicit a prostitute, CBS News reported.

Walt Disney World said all three men had been placed on leave.

While Mr Leese was employed in IT and software work, according to CBS’ report, Mr Fidele was employed at the Cosmic Restaurant at Walt Disney World’s Tomorrowland, and Mr Johnson as a lifeguard at the Polynesian Resort.

“The arrests of a human trafficker and four child predators alone makes this whole operation worthwhile,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd in a statement. “The online prostitution industry enables traffickers and victimizes those who are being trafficked.”

He continued: “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.”

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