An operation by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in Florida that focused on human trafficking and prostitution led to the arrest of 219 people, among them dozens of illegal immigrants, a high school teacher, and three Walt Disney Co. employees.
The seven-day undercover operation, called "Operation Traffic Stop 2," started on Sept. 19. According to a statement from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, detectives sought to identify and free any victims who were being forced into prostitution, and identify anyone participating in the human trafficking. They did that by seeking out people who posted online advertisements for prostitution as well as those who sought out prostitutes through online communications.
Additionally, 35 of those arrested are suspected of being in the country illegally from countries including Cuba, Chile, Venezuela, Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, and the Bahamas.
"This is the single-largest undercover operation of its kind that we’ve worked on in the history of the sheriff’s office," Mr. Judd said. "Seeing the increase in illegal aliens at every operation continues. We are seeing more numbers in every operation. And that should be great pause for the people across the United States," he added.
"For those of you who think that the border issues only pertain to Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, you couldn’t be more wrong," the sheriff pointed out. "The border crisis is a crisis for every state in the union and for a lot of victims, it is a border crisis."
Mr. Judd's office also said that 119 suspects were arrested for soliciting prostitution and 17 other suspects were arrested, and of those, five were either deriving proceeds from prostitution or aiding and abetting prostitutes, while eight drove the prostitutes to the undercover location.
During the operation, detectives filed 44 felony charges and 242 misdemeanor charges in total. Two individuals, Freddy Escalona, 30, and Maria Guzman, 36, were charged with human trafficking, a life felony, and deriving proceeds from prostitution charges.
Mr. Escalona has been accused of forcing a woman into prostitution after he loaned her money to fix her car and she was unable to pay him back. He was taken into custody after driving the victim to an undisclosed location, telling undercover agents that he had "several females" who worked for him.
Police said Ms. Guzman, an illegal immigrant living in Orlando, allegedly trafficked two victims from a hotel in Orlando, setting up their "dates" and profiting from the money they made.
"You always think of the guys being human traffickers, but she is the one facing a felony charge which is 30 years in prison. She's the one who was setting the appointments. She's the one that was prostituting two young ladies. She was taking 60-70 percent of their money," Mr. Judd said.
Meanwhile, the sheriff's office also revealed that three Disney workers, Kenneth Green, Marquis Nixon, and Carlos Ro, were caught in the undercover operation. They were arrested for having each attempted to solicit a prostitute. According to police, Mr. Green works as a training coordinator, Mr. Nixon works as security, and Mr. Ro as a custodian.
"What would an op be if we didn’t arrest someone employed by Disney," Mr. Judd quipped.
The Epoch Times reached out to Disney for comment.
Another notable arrest was that of Russell Rogers from Winter Haven, Florida—a teacher who is married and has three children. Mr. Rogers has been accused of negotiating to have sex with a prostitute.
Mr. Rogers is the athletic director at Vanguard School and a teacher at Auburndale High School REAL Academy, Mr. Judd said. "This dude now is coaching in the county jail. I can’t believe we want somebody like this around our children," he said.
The statement added that Mr. Rogers was first hired by Polk County Public Schools (PCPS) in April 2013 and has worked for REAL Academy since 2017. He currently serves at the Auburndale campus. PCPS noted that it is moving forward with the process of terminating Mr. Rogers' employment with the school district.
Prostitution is illegal in the vast majority of the United States, with the exception of 10 counties in Nevada.Last year, a six-day undercover operation in Florida, called "Operation March Sadness 2," resulted in the arrest of 108 people, among them four Disney employees and a former county judge.
From NTD News