Marion County, FL

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Marion County is a county of roughly 330,000 residents, located in central Florida. Ocala is the county seat and largest city. Prostitution has posed considerable problems in Ocala and the surrounding areas for several decades.

In addition to supporting city-level efforts to reduce commercial sex activity, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office has at times staged sting operations at undisclosed locations within the county. In July 2001, for example, MCSO deputies partnered with the Ocala Police Department to conduct two stings targeting johns– one within the city proper (led by the OPD), and another outside the city’s limits (led by the MCSO). In 2014 and 2015, MCSO officers conducted two web-based stings targeting johns and women offering acts of prostitution. The locations of the stings were not disclosed. Following both operations, the names of and other identifying information about the arrestees were publicized in press.

Shaming and loss of employment are consequence of buying sex that have occurred within the city. For example, a Marion County sheriff’s deputy arrested in July, 2009 on charges of soliciting prostitution in Orange County resigned one week after his arrest. An Internal Affairs investigation showed the alleged episode resulting in his arrest was not the first time the deputy had been caught reportedly picking up a woman known to be engaging in prostitution. In his resignation letter addressed to the Marion County Sheriff, the sex buyer wrote that “this incident has brought great shame and dishonor to my family, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Army.”  He said he resigned “to avoid any further embarrassment, dishonor, and shame to my family first and foremost and this agency.”  The man was a member of the National Guard and former U.S. Army service member.  He was booked into the jail in Orange County and later released on $250 bond.

Key Partners

  • Marion County Sheriff’s Office
  • Ocala Police Department
  • Orange County Sheriff’s Office
State Florida
Type County
Population 331298
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