101 arrested in child sex, prostitution sting in Lake, Polk counties

By Dave D'Marko, Lake County Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, June 02, 2015, 5:13 PM

More than 100 people have been arrested in a large-scale, two-county operation that targeted cyber crimes and prostitution, authorities said Tuesday.

The two-week joint sting, known as "Operation L and P," netted 101 arrests in both Lake and Polk counties. The investigation concluded late last week.

A news conference was held Tuesday morning in Tavares to release the details of the sting.

Many of the people arrested had jobs working with children, including theme park workers at Universal Orlando and SeaWorld, and a former Walt Disney World cast member who left that job before his arrest.

SeaWorld also said the men charged were no longer employed at the theme park.

"These are very dangerous people and they are after our children," said Grady Judd of the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

There were two phases of the operation: During the first week, investigators say, 22 people traveled to Clermont thinking they were going to have sex with a child between ages 10 and 14.

Seventy-nine others were arrested on charges connected to prostitution.

Ahmed Saleem, a Muslim youth coordinator, was also one of the men arrested. Investigators said the men all traveled to a home in Clermont with the hopes of having sex with a child.

The car Saleem traveled in had a license plate that said, "Invest in children," according to investigators.

Saleem is also the founder of the Saleem Academy, an organization empowering Muslim youth globally and also served as the Orlando coordinator for CAIR, the Counsel On Islamic American Relations.

"He's well known as a community outreach leader interacting with teens in and around the Orlando area," said Judd.

Judd, who was at Tuesday's news conference, said the operation sends a strong message to anyone in Internet chat rooms that sex with minors won't be tolerated.