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Four Disney Employees Arrested In Massive Human Trafficking & Child Predator Sting!

Polk County Sheriff at a press conference

[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]

A 6-day human trafficking and child predator sting has led to the arrest of four Disney employees.

In a news conference on Wednesday, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office named the employees who were part of the 108 people arrested in Operation March Sadness 2 — the undercover operation targeting human traffickers, child predators, and prostitution.

Xavier Jackson, 27, who worked as a lifeguard at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, was arrested and charged with three counts of harmful material and one count of unlawful communication after allegedly communicating online and via text with an undercover detective posing as a 14-year-old girl. He allegedly sent photos showing him “doing things that’s totally inappropriate” and bragged about working at the resort, Sheriff Grady Judd said.

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The other Disney employees — Ralph Leese, 45, Shubham Malave, 27, and Wilakson Fidele, 24 — were all charged with soliciting a prostitute. Fidele worked at Disney for about four years at the Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café in Tomorrowland, and Leese worked in IT for the Mouse House. Malave was a software developer for the company, and is in the United States on a work visa.

Judd said about the four suspects at a presser:

“We protected some little girl someplace that was groomed or potentially groomed by these evil, deviant criminals, thugs, that’s all they are. They’re dangerous people.”

In a statement to CBS News, Disney confirmed that Leese, Fidele, and Jackson have been placed on unpaid leave. It added that Malave is not an employee of the company. The sheriff’s office worked with other law enforcement agencies, including the Auburndale Police Department and the Haines City Police Department, to make the arrests.

Detectives found prostitutes who had posted online ads through various websites and social media platforms to identify people who were seeking them out. The detectives then went undercover and communicated with the suspects. They later arranged to meet with the suspects, and arrested the suspects at the location.

Members of anti-trafficking organizations reportedly evaluated the sex workers identified during the operation to figure out if they were human trafficking victims and offered services and counseling. Judd said in a statement:

“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.”

Other suspects that were arrested in the sting included a retired Illinois judge and a 17-year-old boy.

Judd went on to note that his department will continue to arrest anyone who breaks the law, saying:

“What amazes me is we could do another operation starting next week and fill this board [of suspects] up again. And be sure of one thing: These chiefs and I will do just that. We’ll be back and if you violate the law, we’re going to take you to jail. That’s a guarantee.”

Words escape us.

[Image via Disney Parks/Polk Sheriff]

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Mar 18, 2022 07:24am PDT