OAN’s Abril Elfi
8:58 AM – Friday, September 29, 2023
A high school coach and three Disney World workers are among over 200 people arrested in a human trafficking operation in Polk County, Florida.
Polk County Sheriff’s Office announced that they had arrested 219 people, including a high school coach , three individuals who worked at Disney, and 35 illegal immigrants during a human trafficking sting named “Traffic Stop 2.”
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd released the results of the operation on Thursday, claiming that 21 of the 119 sex workers arrested during the operation, which began last week, were likely victims of human trafficking.
Freddy Escalona, 30, and Maria Guzman, 36, were arrested and charged with human trafficking and profiting from prostitution.
According to authorities, Escalona provided money to a victim to repair her vehicle, and when she was unable to repay him, he allegedly coerced her into prostitution.
Judd stated that when Escalona took the victim to the undercover site, he was arrested and told officers he had “several females that he worked with,” or who paid him to transport and keep them safe.
Guzman is also accused of trafficking two women from an Orlando hotel, arranging their “dates” and benefitting from the money they made.
Reportedly, of those arrested, 35 are suspected to be in the country illegally, and are from the countries of Cuba, Chile, Venezuela, Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, or the Bahamas.
According to Judd’s office, 83 individuals were detained for soliciting prostitution; 17 other suspects were apprehended, of which five earned proceeds from prostitution or aided and abetted prostitutes, and eight drove the prostitutes to the undercover location.
“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.”
According to the sheriff, 42 of the suspects admitted to detectives that they were married, 13 said they received government assistance, 42 brought illegal drugs to the undercover location, two had firearms on them, and 18 were from other states.
Authorities reported that the oldest person arrested was 76-year-old Frank Bydairk, and the youngest was 18-year-old Latrice Vilsaint.
Judd continued by saying how one of the men arrested had left his 1-year-old daughter at home alone while he left to have sex. When the man was confronted about it, he reportedly said he did not leave her alone because “the dog was watching her.”
“We interviewed the dog and the dog said woof. I guess that means yes in dog language,” Judd said.
Russell Rogers, an athletic director at Vanguard High School and a teacher at Auburndale High School REAL Academy, was among those arrested. He is also reportedly married and has three children.
“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 office also said three individuals who worked at Disney World, Kenneth Green, Marquis Nixon and Carlos Ro, and one who worked at the Disney Hotel were also among those arrested.
Authorities reportedly charged a total of 44 felonies and 242 misdemeanors during the sting operation.
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