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PolitiFact FL: Expect to see Gov. Ron DeSantis campaigning; he wasn’t arrested, as post claims

A man speaks into a microphone.
Charlie Neibergall
Republican presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during the Family Leadership Summit, July 14, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa. DeSantis was in a car accident Tuesday as he traveled to presidential campaign events in Tennessee but wasn’t injured, his campaign says.

A Facebook post baselessly claimed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was not only arrested, but was running a child sex trafficking ring. Despite the lack of evidence, the post gained thousands of views.

"US Navy SEALs are arresting Ron DeSantis for running child sex traffick ring with CPS and judges. Foster war 2023 operation shut down," the July 25 post read in uppercase letters. (The post used the abbreviation for Child Protective Services.)

This post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

The two-hour video in the post started with footage of a supposed military operation, with text that read, "Military takes out child sex traffick ring king pins."

This was a simulation, not a real military operation. The footage was from a May 27, 2022, YouTube video titled "War invasion military operation in downtown Tampa Florida." The video’s caption called the event a demonstration.

According to the city of Tampa, the simulation was part of the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference. The demonstration included simulated explosions, simulated gunfire and low-flying aircraft. The U.S. Special Operations Command conducted the demonstration May 18, 2022, with a rehearsal the day earlier.

This event did not lead to any arrest of DeSantis, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, having launched his campaign in May 2023.

On July 25, the day the Facebook video was posted, news reports said DeSantis was in a car crash in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on his way to a fundraiser. Press Secretary Bryan Griffin said DeSantis and his team were uninjured.

There are no reports that said he was arrested.

We rate this claim Pants on Fire!

Our Sources

Loreben Tuquero is a reporter covering misinformation for PolitiFact.