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Disney workers, former judge among 108 arrested by Florida police in trafficking sting operation

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Florida police arrested more than 100 people – including an alleged human trafficker and child predators – as part of a six-day undercover human trafficking operation.

Among the 108 people arrested in the operation, dubbed "Operation March Sadness 2," were at least three Disney employees and a retired judge, said the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, located in Winter Haven, Florida.

The operation, which police began March 8, and released details about on Wednesday, targeted online prostitution advertisements with the intent to identify any trafficking victims being forced into prostitution, the sheriff's office said. Undercover detectives arrested suspects at the site of arranged meetups.

Tiffany Nash of Orlando, Florida, 32, was arrested for human trafficking, plus deriving proceeds from prostitution and three drug charges, after she arrived at a location to check on a woman she was threatening violence against if she did not prostitute herself, police said.

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Police charged four alleged child predators after they communicated online with an undercover detective who posed as a 13-year-old or 14-year-old. One of the suspects charged, Xavier Jackson, 27, of Kissimmee, Florida, had a warrant issued for three counts of transmission of material harmful to a minor and unlawful use of two-way communication device. Jackson told police he worked as a lifeguard at the Polynesian Resort for the Walt Disney Co.

Jackson "thought he was chatting with a 14-year-old and he sent photos of himself doing things that's totally inappropriate," Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said during a press conference, shown on Facebook Live.

Judd said Jackson was "bragging" about being a lifeguard at the Disney property. "You think there's a few children around there?" he said. "So we were able to arrest four predators in this operation. This is huge."

Three other suspects arrested for allegedly attempting to solicit a prostitute also told police they worked for Disney: Shubham Malave, 27, who worked as a software developer for Disney, charged with two counts of soliciting; Wilkason Fidele, 24, who had worked at the Cosmic Restaurant at Walt Disney World's Tomorrowland for four years; and Ralph Leese, 45, who spent nearly four years working in IT for Disney.

The Walt Disney Co., when contacted by USA TODAY, said in a statement Malave does not work for the company. The three other suspects have been placed on unpaid leave, Disney said.

Also charged with soliciting a prostitute: Daniel Peters, 66, of Palos Hills, Illinois, who told police he is a retired Cook County, Illinois judge and a former special assistant for legal affairs at the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. Peters was hired in September 2015 and retired in June 2021 as an early intervention specialist and assisted with legal issues, the Cook County Sheriff's Office told USA TODAY.

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“The arrests of a human trafficker and four child predators alone makes this whole operation worthwhile," Judd said in a statement. "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.”

Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @mikesnider.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Disney employees, ex-judge arrested in police trafficking operation