POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Over 100 people were arrested in Polk County, Florida, during “Operation March Sadness 2,” a six-day undercover investigation that focused on human trafficking, prostitution, and child predators.
While most of the arrests involved people accused of human trafficking or soliciting prostitution, the sheriff’s office also made four arrests for alleged crimes against children.
“This is huge,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. “Four arrests of this magnitude is simply remarkable.”
According to the sheriff’s office, there were also four Disney employees among the 108 arrests, including a man who worked as a lifeguard at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
Deputies said Xavier Jackson, 27, who worked as a lifeguard at the resort, sent sexual images and graphic descriptions of “what he wanted to do” to an undercover detective posing as a 14-year-old girl. Deputies said Jackson also bragged about working as a lifeguard at the resort.
Three other Disney employees were arrested during the operation. Their alleged crimes did not involve minors.
One of the accused is a 24-year-old Orlando man who worked at the Cosmic Restaurant in Walt Disney World’s Tomorrowland. Deputies said the man worked at Disney for four years.
A software developer for Disney and someone who works in IT for the company were also arrested.
Sheriff Judd also added 66-year-old Daniel Peters, of Illinois, to the list of arrests mentioned during a Wednesday morning press conference. Judd said Peters served as a judge in Cook County (4th Sub Circuit) and as a special assistant for legal affairs at the Cook County Sheriff’s Office in Illinois.
Deputies said Peters requested an attorney, to which Sheriff Judd replied, “Well judge, you need an attorney. You got problems.”
Peters was charged with soliciting a prostitute.
Polk County detectives said they identified prostitutes who posted online advertisements as well as “johns” who sought the prostitutes online. The sheriff’s office said the operation “had the intent to identify and free any victims who were being forced into prostitution [human trafficking], or anyone participating in the trafficking of victims.”