Theme park employees among more than 100 arrested in massive child sex offender bust

"Why do these people work at theme parks? Because that’s where the children are"

By Jenny Kutner

Published June 8, 2015 5:18PM (EDT)

       (<a href=''>Gunnar Pippel</a> via <a href=''>Shutterstock</a>)
(Gunnar Pippel via Shutterstock)

More than 100 potential sex offenders were arrested last week as part of a massive sting operation in Florida, which uncovered community organizers, theme park employees and local businessmen attempting to elicit sexual favors from children.

Among the 101 arrests central Florida officials made after completing operation "L&P" -- named for Lake and Polk counties, where the arrests occurred -- were at least three employees at major local theme parks, including Disney World, SeaWorld and Universal Studios. Each of the men reportedly targeted children between the ages of 10 and 14 using "hookup apps" such as Grindr, intending to have sex with them. According to the Orlando Sentinel, one of the men arrested in the sting, Ahmad Saleem, is a prominent Orlando community activist.

The Orlando Sentinel reports:

[Saleem] drove to a Clermont-area house intending to meet a 12-year-old girl he had been chatting with online for sex in a vehicle with a specialty "Invest in Children" license plate, authorities said Tuesday.

But when the door opened, there were no children in sight. Instead, detectives quickly brought Saleem to the ground and arrested him. Saleem, founder of the Saleem Academy, an organization dedicated to empowering Muslim youths globally, was one of the 101 people arrested in an undercover cybercrime prostitution and child-sex sting by the Lake and Polk county sheriff's offices. [...]

A Polk County sheriff's detective posed as a girl online and talked with Saleem, who said he wanted to have sex with the girl and then traveled to Lake County for an expected meeting, authorities said.

Saleem was also the Orlando regional coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a nonprofit organization dedicated to challenging stereotypes of Islam and Muslims and defending civil liberties. The organization said he only worked there for a short time before abandoning his post.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd also confirmed that 79 of the arrests were made on prostitution-related activity, and indicated that a number of the predators who were arrested appeared at the sting with condoms, lubricants, whips and vibrators. The number of arrests is atypical, but Judd explained he was not surprised that several of the men involved worked at theme parks.

"Why do these people work at theme parks?" Judd said. "Because that's where the children are."

Jenny Kutner

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Child Sex Abuse Children Disney World Florida Grindr Seaworld Sex Offenders Sexual Predators Universal Studios