Undercover deputies in Lake County have arrested 22 men in an underage sex sting, including three employees at Walt Disney World, and one man who brought a Happy Meal with him to meet what he thought was a girl between 12 and 14 years old.
The list of suspects arrested in what Sheriff Gary Borders called “Operation Be Mine” — just in time for Valentine’s Day — also included a man who worked at a miniature golf course, a paramedic, and a member of the National Guard.
A Walt Disney World spokesperson told News 13 the three employees arrested in the sting have been placed on unpaid leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
“I’ve got a condom in my back pocket,” one man was heard saying on surveillance video from the scene. He was one of the nearly two dozen men caught by surprise as they arrived at a home expecting to meet an underage girl for sex, only to find deputies in uniform waiting for them.
Another man brought a bag filled with candy bars, beer and male sexual enhancement pills.
Sheriff Borders said the men were prowling Facebook and other websites that are popular among underage children.
“We encourage them to know where they are going online, what sites they are visiting,” said Borders. “We want them to have a relationship where the child feels comfortable enough to tell them if someone is contacting them online. And then, of course, we want them to contact us.”
The investigation has also led to additional charges for one Lake County man: David Griffith of Minneola, whom detectives said was trying to meet what turned out to be a real 7-year-old for sex in another county.
The 22 men face up to five years in prison each if convicted.