A high school teacher and three Disney employees were among 219 people busted in a human trafficking sting operation in Florida this month.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd announced the arrests during a press conference on Thursday.
“Not only did we arrest more suspects during this single operation than we have ever arrested before, we identified 21 human trafficking victims; during a similar operation in February, we identified 24 victims,” Judd said. “That’s 45 victims we were able to identify this year. The valuable relationships that we have with the social services organizations who join us in these operations make it possible for these women to get help and be emancipated from this way of life.”
A total of 35 of the suspects arrested were in the United States illegally and were from Cuba, Chile, Venezuela, Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia or the Bahamas.
According to a report from Fox News, “Judd’s office said 83 suspects were arrested for soliciting prostitution; 17 other suspects were arrested, and of those, five either derived proceeds from prostitution or aiding and abetting prostitutes, and eight drove the prostitutes to the undercover location.”
Overall, suspects arrested during the operation have been charged with a total of 44 felonies and 242 misdemeanors.
One of the men arrested, Russell Rogers, is an athletic director at Vanguard School and a teacher at Auburndale High School REAL Academy. He is married with three children, according to Judd.
“This dude now is coaching in the county jail,” Judd said. “I can’t believe we want somebody like this around our children.”
Polk County Schools issued a statement responding to Rogers’ arrest.
“Part of being an educator is understanding that you are held to a higher standard for your actions in the classroom, as well as the community,” district officials said. “These charges don’t involve students, and Rogers was not on duty as a teacher, but this kind of conduct still has no place in our school system.”
The district told Fox News that they have started the process of terminating his employment.
In addition to three of the suspects working at Disney, a fourth works at a Disney hotel.
The operation was conducted by Lake County Sheriff’s Office, with help from police departments in Auburndale, Bartow, Davenport, Lakeland, Lake Hamilton, Lake Wales, Winter Haven and Zephyrhills.
“Several other agencies assisted, including the Florida Department of Children and Families and social services organizations like One More Child,” Fox reports.