Florida police arrested 12 suspects between the ages of 20 and 67 as part of a sting operation launched earlier this month. Among the arrested was a 30-year-old Disney employee, authorities announced Friday.
Zachary Hudson was charged with one count of using a two-way communication device to commit a felony and one count of transmission of material harmful to a minor, law enforcement said in a Friday news release from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
The Reunion, Florida, resident first began communicating with an undercover detective pretending to be a 15-year-old girl on June 4, according to the sheriff’s office.
We call these guys “the worst of the worst” – these 12 were arrested after chatting with undercover detectives online – NOT the children they thought they were grooming & soliciting. Read the release: https://t.co/DfGYgcQhJk
Sheriff Judd is live on FB: https://t.co/XABix0YQrL pic.twitter.com/1wB5L1xYaF
— Polk County Sheriff 🚔 Grady Judd (@PolkCoSheriff) June 17, 2022
During his conversations with the supposed minor, Hudson expressed that he was willing to have a relationship with the girl despite her being underage.
The man told the undercover detective that he was okay with a pedophilic relationship as long as “my being older doesn’t bother you,” according to the sheriff’s office. Hudson also told the girl that “age is just a number,” police said.
The subsequent interactions between the two soon took on a sexual nature, with Hudson describing what he would do to her sexually and saying that he would be “honored” to take her virginity. The Florida man also began to send nude images of himself to the undercover detective.
Hudson also revealed that he was a Disney World employee, working as a bus driver for the entertainment resort complex, during his conversations with the undercover detective, the sheriff’s office said.
“What would an operation be — either a pornography investigation or predator operation or human trafficking operation — without a Disney employee? We always have a Disney employee,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd told WKMG-TV.
Police arrested Hudson in Orlando after detectives obtained a warrant for his arrest. He was then booked into the Orange County Jail and hit with the above-mentioned charges.
Hudson’s arrest was part of “Operation Child Protector II,” a two-week joint anti-sex-predator sting operation launched June 2, 2022, by detectives of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Auburndale Police Department and the Winter Haven Police Department.
As part of the operation, law enforcement officers pretended to be children under 18 on social media platforms, mobile apps and dating websites.
The detectives’ goal in the operation was to catch pedophiles who would interact with minors trying to groom them and arrange meet-ups for illegal sexual activity.
The operation resulted in the arrests of 12 suspects, the sheriff’s office said. The apprehended suspects face a total of 49 felony charges, with their combined criminal histories spanning 22 felonies and 31 misdemeanor charges.
Four suspects were arrested after showing up at a location in Polk County, intending to have illicit sexual relations with minors. The rest were apprehended and booked into jails in other counties after detectives secured warrants for their arrest. Hudson was among the warrant arrests.
Detectives have issued warrants for additional suspects charged with attempts to groom and solicit unlawful sexual relations with minors and for sending pornographic images to them.
Police are still on the hunt for those suspects, the news release from the sheriff’s office stated.
Walt Disney World did not immediately respond to The Western Journal’s requests for comment on Hudson’s arrest and on the sheriff’s remarks that “We always have a Disney employee” in a “pornography investigation or predator operation or human trafficking operation.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.