OCALA, Fla. – Eight men were arrested in Marion County on suspicion of having sex with children, sheriff officials said Monday.
The Marion County Sheriff’s Office said other local, state and federal agencies had been assisting in a “stabbing operation to identify and arrest criminals seeking sex with children.”
According to the sheriff officials, the men made arrangements to meet and have sex with a girl or boy aged 13 to 15 in Marion County.
“These eight men were traveling to a location in Marion County to have sex with the child they thought they sent online messages,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement. “Instead, they were met, handcuffed and arrested by law enforcement.”
Four other people were arrested for distributing harmful material to minors.
During the online interactions, all of the men had lewd conversations with whom they believed the child was possible and described the sexual acts they intended to engage in, the sheriff’s office said. According to official sources, some of the men also sent sexually explicit photos.
“I will always use all of my resources to hunt these evil predators and bring them to justice,” Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods said in a statement. “I will continue to do everything I can to keep this evil away from our children.”
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Ocala and Gainesville Police and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office helped with the sting, MCSO said.
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