Child sex sting busts former workers from Disney, Universal, SeaWorld

Some of the men caught in the sting had previously worked at Disney World
Some of the men caught in the sting had previously worked at Disney World

Police in the US launched a sting to nab suspected perverts in the Florida area most closely associated with children’s attractions such as Disney and SeaWorld – and busted 22 men who believed they were arriving to have sex with a young girl.

The operation at a house in Clermont set up a scenario where the sickos believed they were arriving to abuse a girl in her early teens.

However, each time one of the men turned up they were arrested for soliciting sex with a minor.

Operation L&P was named after the two counties, Lake and Polk, collaborating on the undercover sting operation and timed to occur just before children went on their summer vacation in early May.

Detective posed as underage girls on internet chat rooms to lure the predators, but police were shocked to discover many of those apprehended were men whose jobs involved children, including three current and former theme park employees and a youth counsellor.

Jeff Conrad, for example, told deputies that he had worked at Disney's Magic Kingdom, half an hour away in Orlando, Florida. Disney told News13 in Florida that the man left Disney before the arrest.

"He travelled to have sex with a 14-year-old child," Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd told reporters at a news conference. "He had access to kids because, as he said, he was a Disney employee working at Magic Kingdom."

Two more suspects worked at Orlando theme parks previously, Sheriff Judd said.

Ryan Mayer had worked at SeaWorld and Tomas Adames at Universal Studios.

Some men allegedly brought sex toys, including a whip.

Another allegedly arrived with an extra pair of underwear, intending to claim his child victim's panties as a trophy.

"Their communications and desires were outrageous and deviant," the sheriff said. "All 22 travelled to have sex and brought outrageous tools for deviant sex."

One of the most disturbing cases was the arrest of Ahmad Saleem, a 22-year-old community activist and youth counsellor. He is the founder of Saleem Academy, an organisation dedicated to empowering young Muslims. Saleem worked for the organisation only for a short time and had left before his arrest.

Saleem allegedly showed up to the sting thinking he was about to have sex with a 12-year-old in a car with a specialty licence plate reading: "Invest in Children."

None of those arrested have filed pleas yet.

The police had little pity for Saleem or his fellow suspects, saying: "If you're going to prey on children, the Florida sheriffs are going to come after you with a vengeance.”