A sprawling human trafficking investigation in Polk County, Florida, that began earlier in September has resulted in a total of 219 arrests, including 45 women believed to have been victims of human trafficking. The dragnet also snared a Disney employee and a school teacher. Two of the arrests are individuals authorities believe were responsible for the trafficking ring. Both individuals are in the United States illegally.
The case is the latest to highlight the dangers of the Biden administration’s open border policy. While thousands of the immigrants who cross into the U.S. every day are honest, hard-working people looking to make a better life, at least some of the immigrants have more nefarious intentions.
🚨🚨Breaking: School coach, and 3 Disney employees among those arrested in human trafficking sting in Polk County, Florida. 219 people arrested including 35 illegal immigrants. 44 felonies and 242 misdemeanors charged. Operation Traffic Stop was a joint op involving several… pic.twitter.com/wfoUkCQPy8
— Will (@WillSaveTheKids) September 28, 2023
Freddy Escalona, 30, and Maria Guzman, 36, are believed to be responsible for the human trafficking ring and are also accused of receiving proceeds from prostitution committed by some of the 119 prostitutes identified by the sting operation.
Police claim that the number of arrests arising from the operation is the most the county has ever seen in a single investigation. Among the 219 arrests, police identified a total of 83 individuals accused of soliciting prostitutes, 17 pimps, and 35 illegal immigrants mostly hailing from Latin America, Mexico, and Caribbean islands.
Police added that 41 of the johns arrested admitted to being married and 13 claimed to receive government assistance, indicating that at least some taxpayer funds were used for trafficking or prostitution. Police issued 44 felony charges and 242 misdemeanor charges.
The September operation followed a February sting that also netted numerous arrests. Police noted that the 45 trafficking victims include people identified in both sweeps.
Three of the people arrested in “Operation Traffic Stop 2” work for Disney. They are employed as a security guard, a custodian, and a training coordinator.
A Vanguard School athletic director was also among those who were arrested for soliciting prostitutes. The married father of three also worked for Auburndale High School REAL Academy and was a youth football coach.
Among the details of the investigation are cases of truly horrible people. One man left his one-year-old in the care of the family dog to have sex. Another left his 15-year-old daughter in a motel room alone on her birthday to seek the company of a lady of the night. It wasn’t just men making bad choices. A pair of women brought a 14-month-old on a job.
Two of the individuals arrested for soliciting are executives at California-based companies who traveled cross-country to have an extramarital affair.
Human trafficking is an increasing problem in the United States. The recent mass migration of people illegally entering the country has only made it more difficult for police to solve human trafficking cases. Florida ranks third in the nation for the highest levels of human trafficking.