POLK COUNTY, Fla. – The Polk County Sheriff’s Office announced earlier this week that investigators arrested 11 suspects in a child pornography sting in central Florida, some of whom worked for Disney World and Merlin Entertainments.
11 Arrests … 660 Felony Charges
In total, an astounding 660 felony charges have been filed against the suspects, though more could be tacked on as the investigation progresses, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office confirmed in a news release.
“As you know, this is just the beginning – 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,” said Sheriff Grady Judd.
Disney World Employee Arrested
Among the 11 suspects arrested, 53-year-old Roger Catey, of Davenport, Fla., told police he worked as a project manager in the costumes department at Disney World, reported Fox News. He was charged with 24 counts of possession of child pornography and two counts of performance of sexual preference by a child, police say.
Moreover, he was fired from Disney World, according to the Associated Press.
Arrestee ‘Frequently Attends the Theme Park Alone’
Another man, 69-year-old Donald Marich, was not an employee of Disney World, but “is a Disney annual pass holder and frequently attends the theme park alone,” according to police. He was arrested on 16 counts of possession and 3 counts of promotion of sexual performance.
Legoland Employee Snared
Furthermore, law enforcement authorities arrested Rickie Vargas-Garcia, 30, with 10 counts possession of child pornography. At the time of his arrest, he told police he was employed as a Lego builder for Merlin Entertainments, which owns Legoland Florida, among other Legoland locations.
The other nine suspects arrested in the sting, which was dubbed “Guardians of Innocence II,” included a 16-year old high school student, a college student, and an 84-year-old retired engineer.
Representatives for Disney World and Legoland were not immediately available for comment.
One Arrest Led to Fatal OIS
Finally, police say one suspect, 21-year-old Andres Estrada, was killed Friday when he attacked a deputy and reached for her weapon. As a result, another deputy shot him.
The Orlando Sentinel reported the officer involved shooting (OIS) this way:
Polk County Sheriff’s detective shot to death a child pornography suspect who was attacking another detective at a home on Friday, a press release said.
The agency said the shooting happened about 10:30 a.m. Friday on 8th Street North in Dundee.
Two detectives, Christine Smith, 41, and Trent Medley, 29, went to the home after receiving a tip about someone downloading child pornography. The suspect, 21-year-old Andres Estrada was initially cooperative, allowing the detectives to view his phone and computer, said spokeswoman Carrie Hortsman.
When Medley went into another room to make a phone call, he heard a commotion where Smith and (the) suspect were, according to Hortsman.
Estrada’s brother said he lunged at Smith as soon as Medley left the room, Hortsman said.
Estrada was on top of Smith and trying to grab her gun, Hortsman said. After Estrada ignored commands to get off her, Medley shot Estrada about three times, Hortsman said.
Estrada was pronounced dead at the scene.
Smith, about 8 inches shorter and 100 pounds lighter than Estrada, was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.
According to Hortsman, Estrada has been Baker Acted three times, but never arrested.
Smith has been with the sheriff’s office for 12 years and was previously with the Frostproof Police Department, while Medley was hired in 2014.