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“If it was my choice I’d bury you under the jail”: Sheriff Billy Woods sends a warning, successful sting operation arrests 12 child sex predators

Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 5:51 PM EST
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OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) - Sheriffs deputies are calling them “the Dirty Dozen” - 12 men are behind bars after a sting operation by Marion County Sheriff’s deputies lured out child predators.

The implications go beyond possible jail time for those who were caught.

Related story: A dozen men seeking sex with children arrested

“To be honest with you, I hope they were scared s***less,” a fired up Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods said to media about the recent arrest of 12 different men soliciting sex from children online.

Eight of these men got a big surprise from law enforcement when they tried to met up in person with the children that they were talking to online, and now they’re at the Marion County jail.

Four of the men - Robin Strickland, Lonny Blankenship, Allen Vasquez, and Robert Hilse - all from outside of the county, are being held at their respective jails, waiting to be transferred to marion county.

“If it was my choice I’d bury you under the jail,” Woods said.

But this is only scratching the surface.

At Kimberly’s Center for Child Protection, their sole purpose is to help abused and neglected children.

“The largest majority of the children that we do see here are recovering from an allegation of some type of sexual abuse or child on child sexual activity,” Exec. Dir. of Kimberly’s Center for Child Protection, Dawn Westgate said.

And if a child does come forward, Westgate said it’s important to listen.

“The moment after a child chooses to disclose that they’ve been a victim of sexual abuse, it’s an incredibly important moment in their lives, so if you ever find yourself as being the person that a child has chosen to trust with their disclosure of sexual abuse, it’s incredible important that you demonstrate compassion and belief,” Westgate said.

And this isn’t the end for sheriff’s detectives.

“Massachusetts, we’re coming for you. Jacksonville, Lake City, coming for you, and anyone else that wants to mess with the children in Marion County, I am here to protect every one of them. Every one of my deputies is here to protect them,” Woods said.

And protect and serve these deputies will.

Hello Marion County citizens, I’m your Sheriff Billy Woods. I had made a promise to ensure the safety of the children...

Posted by Marion County Sheriff's Office on Monday, February 22, 2021

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