Trafficking Sting Leads to Capture of 108 Suspects

Trafficking Sting Leads to Capture of 108 Suspects

( – On March 16, the Polk County, Florida Sheriff’s Office announced it successfully arrested 108 people under Operation March Sadness 2. The sting began on March 8 and focused on prostitution, human trafficking, and child predators. The sheriff also noted four of those in custody are Disney employees.

The operation was a group effort involving officers from Winter Haven, Haines City, Lake Wales, and Auburndale. It also involved officials from the State Attorney’s Office and the Florida Department of Children and Families, along with members of organizations fighting against human trafficking.

According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, agents worked undercover, communicating with suspects online and agreeing to meetings, where they then apprehended them. Xavier Jackson, a lifeguard at the Walt Disney Polynesian Resort, allegedly sent sexual photos and messages to an undercover officer who posed as a 14-year-old. Jackson faces charges for transmitting harmful material to a minor and unlawful communication. Wilkason Fidele, a worker at Cosmic Restaurant; Shubham Malave, a visa holder who held a position as a software developer; and Ralph Leese, who worked for Disney’s IT department, all face charges for attempting to solicit a prostitute.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd noted the significant arrests were of one human trafficker and four child predators, which he stressed helped make this operation a success.

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