Multiple Walt Disney World employees were among 17 suspects busted during an undercover child predator operation in central Florida, authorities said.
Detectives posed as juveniles on social media, apps and online dating sites as part of "Operation Child Protector," which targeted people who prey upon and travel to meet children for unlawful sexual activity, the Polk County Sheriff's Office said in a news release Tuesday.
Detectives from the Auburndale Police Department, Orlando Police Department, Winter Haven Police Department and Orange County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the operation which led to 17 suspects arrested and 49 felony charges.
The suspects communicated with detectives who posed as children ages 13 and 14. When the suspects went to meet up with the teens to engage in sex acts, they were taken into custody, officials said.
The youngest suspect arrested was 26, and the two oldest suspects were 47.
Among the suspects who authorities said they arrested were:
- A 26-year-old man who sent a detective posing as a 13-year-old girl an explicit video of himself. He told deputies he's a lifeguard at Animal Kingdom Lodge at Walt Disney World. When he went to meet with the "girl" he was still wearing his Disney shirt and swim trunks.
- A 47-year-old man who is a registered nurse at AdventHealth Care Center in Celebration, who arranged to meet with detective posing as a 14-year-old boy for sex acts.
- A 36-year-old manager of a Starbucks at Orlando International Airport who arranged to meet with a detective posing as a 13-year-old girl.
- A 44-year-old custodian at a nursing home in Lakeland who arranged to meet with a detective posing as a 14-year-old boy.
- A 34-year-old man who arranged with two deputies posing as 13-year-old and 14-year-old girls to have sex with he and his girlfriend. The man and his girlfriend told deputies they're custodians at Walt Disney World Hollywood Studios.