Police in Polk County, Florida, have busted a pedophile ring at Disney World and Legoland as part of a “Guardians of Innocence II” sting.
11 people were arrested Monday by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office following a sweeping investigation by the Sheriff’s Office’s computer crime unit.
“As you know, this is just the beginning,” Sheriff Grady Judd said in a news release. “Once we serve search warrants and seize the devices that these suspects are using to download and distribute pornography, we will do a complete forensic analysis, and in all likelihood we will be adding on more charges related to the felony possession and distribution of images and videos of children being sexually battered.”
Tampabay.com reports: In all, the 11 men face 660 felony charges.
Roger Catey, a 53-year-old Davenport man, was arrested on 24 counts of child possession and two counts of promotion of sexual performance by a child. Police told officers he was employed by Disney World as a project manager for the costume department and had been viewing child pornography for a year. During the initial investigation, deputies found files that depicted child pornography with victims as young as 3 years old.
Rickie Vargas-Garcia, 30, of Davenport, works as a Lego builder for Legoland, deputies said. Detectives found files depicting child pornography with victims as young as 3 to 5 years old. He told officers he solicited the photos from underage girls — the youngest being 11 — online by tricking them into thinking he was 18. Vargas-Garcia faces 10 counts of child pornography.
After a tip that child pornography was being downloaded by a computer at a Lake Alfred address, deputies arrested 69-year-old Donald Marich, a retired teacher from Arizona. He lives alone and is an annual pass holder for Disney. Police say Marich often visited the theme park alone, according to the release. He was charged with 16 counts of child pornography and three counts of the promotion of child pornography.’
Also arrested was a 16-year-old boy who attends Haines City High School. The warrant came after the Sheriff’s Office received a tip about the files being downloaded to Dropbox. After checking the teen’s phone, deputies said they found pictures with victims as young as 12-24 months old.
More charges may be pending, Judd said.
“Most of the images we saw during this investigation depicted children being sexually battered, that we have seen before, which means we haven’t yet identified any local child victims,” Judd said. “But as always, that is also a part of our investigation.”