Twitter is ablaze with the arrest of Disney CEO Bob Chapek in a human trafficking sting operation in Florida. But Chapek was not arrested. Four Disney employees were.
108 people in Florida were arrested during a six-day undercover human trafficking operation, “Operation March Sadness 2,” which began on Tuesday, March 8, 2022. Four of those were Disney employees.
Polk County Sheriff’s Office was assisted in the effort by police departments from Winter Haven, Haines City, Lake Wales, and Auburndale, as well as the Office of the State Attorney 10th Judicial Court, members from the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), and anti-human trafficking organizations: One More Child, Heartland for Children, and Selah Freedom of Sarasota.
Detectives identified prostitutes who posted online advertisements as well as the “johns” who were seeking out the prostitutes via online communications, with the intent to identify and free any victims who were being forced into prostitution (human trafficking), or anyone participating in the trafficking of victims. Detectives also identified and investigated adults who engaged in online sexually charged communications with those they believed were children—four men were arrested for preying on children online.
Officials identified four Disney employees as among those arrested. Xavier Jackson, 27, worked as a lifeguard at the Polynesian Resort for Walt Disney. Judd said Jackson sent inappropriate photos of himself and messages to an undercover detective who pretended to be a 14-year-old girl. He was charged with three counts of transmitting harmful material to a minor and one count of unlawful communication.
“We protected some little girl someplace that was groomed or potentially groomed by these evil, deviant criminals, thugs, that’s all they are,” Judd said about the four suspects at a press conference. “They’re dangerous people.”
The three others, who were allegedly attempting to solicit a prostitute, were identified by Judd as: Wilkason Fidele, 24, who worked at the Cosmic Restaurant at Walt Disney World’s Tomorrowland for four years; Shubham Malave, 27, who is on a visa citizenship from India and worked as a software developer for Disney; and Ralph Leese, 45, who spent nearly four years working in IT for Disney.
“He’s married,” Judd said about Leese. “So I’m sure Disney’s not pleased. I bet his wife’s not pleased, but we’re pleased that we arrested him.”
“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. Johns fuel the trafficking and victimization. Where there is prostitution, there is exploitation, disease, dysfunction, and broken families,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
Undercover detectives communicated online with the suspects and arranged for a meetup at a location where they were arrested after their arrival.
Members of the anti-trafficking organizations were on hand to speak with the prostitutes to help determine if they were human trafficking victims—they were offered services and counseling.
The oldest person arrested was 67-year old Derek Collins who showed up to the residence drinking Ensure, the youngest was a 17-year old male. Both were arrested for soliciting for a prostitute.
Human Trafficking Suspect:
32-year old Tiffany Nash of Orlando was arrested for trafficking another woman in prostitution. The woman, an adult female, arrived at the residence as a prostitute, but an investigation revealed that Nash repeatedly threatened violence against the victim if she didn’t prostitute herself. Nash would take all money derived from the victim’s prostitution. When Nash arrived at the location to check on the victim, she was taken into custody and charged with: Human Trafficking (F1), Deriving Proceeds from Prostitution (F2), Possession of Cocaine (F3), Possession of Methamphetamine (F3), and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (M1).
Nash’s victim was provided the assistance of one of the anti-trafficking organizations.
39-year old Timothy Finley of Mulberry began communicating online with an undercover detective, thinking he was chatting with a 13-year old female. Finley traveled to the residence with the intent for sexual conduct with her. He was arrested and charged with: Travel to Meet a Minor/Using Computer to Lure (F2), Attempted Lewd Battery (F3), Transmit Material Harmful to Minor (F3), Possession of Methamphetamine (F3), Resisting (M1), and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (M1).
41-year old Shannon Johnson of Orlando believed he was chatting online with a 13-year old female, sent a nude photo, and then travelled to the residence with the intent for sexual conduct with her. He was arrested and charged with: Travel to Meet a Minor/Using Computer to Lure (F2), Attempted Lewd Battery (F3), and Transmit Material Harmful to Minor (F3).
36-year old Jody Rose of Gainesville communicated online and via text with an undercover detective posing as a 13-year old girl. Rose sent sexual images and graphic descriptions of what he wanted to do. A warrant was obtained on Rose for Transmission of Material Harmful to a Minor (10-counts, F3) and Unlawful Use of 2-Way Communication Device (F3), and he was arrested in Alachua County.
27-year old Xavier Jackson of Kissimmee communicated online and via text with an undercover detective posing as a 14-year old girl. During the communication, Jackson sent sexual images and graphic descriptions of what he wanted to do. A warrant was obtained for Jackson for Transmission of Material Harmful to a Minor (3-counts, F3) and Unlawful Use of 2-Way Communication Device (F3).