Rodney Davis wasn’t even wearing socks.
The 56-year-old Disney security guard and husband of 27 years was “buck nekkid,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said, when he walked up to a house to purchase sex from an undercover detective. Davis’s arrest was one of 124 in Operation Santa’s Naughty List, a joint operation lead by Judd’s agency targeting human trafficking and prostitution that ran from Dec. 3 through 8.
Judd announced the arrests during a Wednesday morning news conference and released video from the sting, including the nude Davis, shortly after.
“The primary purpose of this operation was to identify and rescue victims of human trafficking and also to find deviants who want to prey on children,” Judd said.
Davis was among 46 johns – those seeking to purchase the services of a prostitute – arrested in the sting. Fifty-three were arrested for prostitution and another 18 for various crimes, mostly aiding, transporting and deriving proceeds from prostitution, Judd said. The latter 18 will be further investigated as potential human traffickers.
Seven of the 46 johns were arrested on charges of preying on children, including two men from the Tampa Bay area. According to the Sheriff’s Office, 22-year-old Matthew Minardi, a waiter from Palm Harbor, had conversations with who he thought were two different 13-year-old girls on social media. Both were actually undercover detectives. Minardi, the Sheriff’s Office said, sent nude photos of himself and wanted to have sex with one of the girls and another adult. He was arrested in Pinellas County by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
Joshua Bryant, 23, of Brandon, crashed into an undercover vehicle as he tried to flee from the sting house, the Sheriff’s Office said. He’d traveled to Polk County to meet who he thought was a 14-year-old boy he planned to have sex with and hide in his bedroom if the child was reported missing.
Lakeland police chief Ruben Garcia said he considered the operation a success as soon as the first predator was arrested.
“We could’ve spent all these resources, all that time, to capture that one person,” he said. “Success was when they put handcuffs on that first predator.”
Judd said seven of the alleged prostitutes were identified as potential victims of human trafficking. Two were taken to shelters and introduced to anti-human trafficking organizations. Judd said their records will be wiped clean and they’ll have continued access to counselors and support services. Judd said everyone arrested for prostitution was given immediate access to members of the organizations and offered assistance.