Florida Sex Trafficking Sting Results in 160 Arrests, Includes Disney Employees and Teachers

This weekend, the Polk County Sheriff’s office in Florida made 160 arrests as part of a seven-day-long human trafficking sting.

The Polk County Sheriff’s office joined with police departments and organizations across Florida, including “Winter Haven, Haines City, Lake Wales, Davenport, and Bartow (police departments), as well as the Office of the State Attorney 10th Judicial Circuit, State Attorney Brian Haas, members from the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), and social services organizations.”

Those arrested included teachers, Disney employees, and a Georgia Deputy Police Chief, Jason DiPrima.

Reaction to the arrests were swift:

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Polk County Sherriff Grady Judd highlighted the new challenges to law enforcement created by the online prostitution industry, saying that it allows for the ‘continued victimization’ of those trafficked.

“The online prostitution industry enables traffickers and allows for the continued victimization of those who are being trafficked. Our goal is to identify victims, offer them help, and arrest those who are fueling the exploitation of human beings (Johns) and those profiting from the exploitation of human beings. Prostitution is not a victimless crime – it results in exploitation, disease, dysfunction, drug and alcohol addiction, violence, and broken families.” – Grady Judd, Sheriff

Judd said that his goal for prostitutes and victims of human trafficking was to provide them with social services and assistance rather than treat them as criminals.

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“Our goal is to start services the moment that they are taken into custody and to treat them as what they are, victims, not as suspects in a criminal event,” said Judd.”

The sting resulted in hundreds of criminal charges against ‘John’s’ or people who solicit prostitution. It included 52 felonies and 216 misdemeanor charges.

Many arrested were prior offenders, with 419 previous felonies and 619 misdemeanors on their rap sheets.

At least two of those arrested were Disney employees, including 57-year-old Guillermo Perez, who is a bellhop at Coronado Springs Resort in Florida, and 26-year-old Samy Claude, who is a contracted photographer for Disney.

A teacher was among the 160 people arrested. 36-year-old Carlos Gonzalez of Davenport, who was a Math teacher at New Dimensions High School in Osceola County, was arrested for two accounts of soliciting a prostitute.

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