Disney World Cast Members Among 108 People Arrested in Human Trafficking and Child Predator Bust
Walt Disney World cast members were among those arrested arrested in a recent child predator and human trafficking bust.
The Polk County Sheriff's Department in Florida arrested 108 people as part of a six-day undercover operation called Operation March Sadness 2, which began March 8.
Sheriff Grady Judd told NBC that one of the alleged perpetrators arrested was Xavier Jackson. The 27-year-old worked as a lifeguard at Disney World's Polynesian Village Resort. Judd told media outlets that Jackson sent lewd photos of himself and messages to an undercover detective pretending to be a 14-year-old girl.
Jackson has been charged with three counts of transmitting harmful material to a minor along with one count of unlawful communication.
Judd also identified 24-year-old Wilkason Fidele, who worked at Cosmic Ray's Restaurant at Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland for several years, as another cast member arrested during the sting operation.
Two other reported Disney employees arrested included Shubham Malave, a 27-year-old software developer who allegedly worked for the company, and 45-year-old Ralph Leese, who worked for Disney in their IT department for almost four years.
"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 during a press conference following the bust. "They're dangerous people."
"He's married," Judd added, regarding Leese. "So I'm sure Disney's not pleased. I bet his wife's not pleased, but we're pleased that we arrested him."
Disney confirmed to CBS that Leese, Fidele and Jackson have been placed on unpaid leave. The company added that despite reports, Malave is not a current Disney employee.
Judd also revealed that a 66-year-old retired judge from the Chicago area was also arrested during the bust. The oldest arrested was a 67-year-old man who showed up to a meeting drinking Ensure. Meanwhile, the youngest arrested was 17 years old.