FACT CHECK: Are U.S. Navy Seals Arresting Ron DeSantis For Allegedly Running A Child Sex Trafficking Ring?

Christine Sellers | Fact Check Reporter

A video shared on Facebook claims the U.S. Navy Seals are purportedly arresting Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis for allegedly running a child sex trafficking ring.

Verdict: False

Spokespersons for DeSantis and the U.S. Navy both refuted the claim in respective emails to Check Your Fact.

Fact Check:

DeSantis is set to let go of more than one-third of his 2024 campaign staff, totaling 38 jobs, according to Politico. DeSantis’ campaign also recently fired a staffer who promoted an online video that superimposed Nazi imagery over the governor’s face, NBC News reported.

“US NAVY SEALS ARE ARRESTING RON DESANTIS FOR RUNNING CHILD SEX TRAFFICK [sic] RING WITH CPS AND JUDGES. FOSTER WAR 2023 OPERATION SHUT DOWN,” the Facebook video’s caption purports. The two-hour video, which opens with alleged footage of a military operation, has been commented on over 500 times as of writing.

The claim is false, however. The video does not open with footage of an actual military operation but rather a demonstration of a war invasion that took place in Tampa, Florida, in May 2022. The demonstration features “military helicopters coastguard and army vehicles [sic] in a gunfire on Tampa Bay,” according to the video’s description. The video is available to watch on YouTube.

The demonstration occurred as part of a Special Operations Forces Industry Conference on May 18, 2022, according to a video shared by the City of Tampa.

Because the event represented a demonstration and not an actual military operation, DeSantis was not arrested. Furthermore, Check Your Fact found no credible news reports indicating the Florida Republican Governor has ever run a child sex trafficking ring. If the claim was true, multiple media outlets would have covered it, yet none have. DeSantis would also likely be in jail, not campaigning in the 2024 presidential election, if he had committed such wrongdoing.

Likewise, the Florida Republican Governor has not commented on the claim made in the Facebook video via his website or verified social media accounts. In addition, the U.S. Navy has not released a statement addressing the claim. (RELATED: Is Ron DeSantis The Only Veteran Running For President?)

Jeremy Redfern, a DeSantis spokesperson, refuted the claim in an email to Check Your Fact.

“This claim is false,” Redfern said.

A U.S. Navy spokesperson denied the claim as well, stating in an email to Check Your Fact, “this is a false claim,” the spokesperson said.

Christine Sellers

Fact Check Reporter