1:53 PM PDT, August 4, 2021
An undercover child sex sting has led to the arrest of 17 people in central Florida, including a registered nurse and three employees of Walt Disney World, police said.
The operation ran from July 27 through August 1 and used detectives posing as juveniles on social media platforms, mobile apps, and online dating sites, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. It was designed to net “those who prey upon and travel to meet children for unlawful sexual activity,” the department said in a statement.
The arrests were announced Tuesday.
The accused face a total of 49 felony and two misdemeanor charges that include traveling to meet a minor for sex, attempted lewd battery, use of a computer to seduce a child, unlawful use of a two-way communication device, and transmission of material harmful to a child, the sheriff’s department said.
The suspects range in age from 26 to 47 and all but one live in central Florida, the department said. One man was visiting from California, authorities said.
“These are nasty, nasty people,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd at a Tuesday news conference. “We can’t even use the words that they used. We obviously can’t show the pictures and video clips that they sent to what they thought were 13-year-old little girls and little boys.”
The accused allegedly “communicated with and solicited who they thought were children between the ages of 13 and 14 for sex acts. The suspects showed up to an undercover location in Polk County at separate times to meet who they thought were children,” according to the department’s statement.