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Monday, February 6, 2023

MCSO human trafficking investigation leads to arrest of married couple

A human trafficking investigation by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office has led to the arrest of an Ocala man and his wife.

On Tuesday, November 22, an MCSO Major Crimes detective began investigating 47-year-old Dwight Tawan Edwards after inappropriate texts were discovered between him and two juvenile victims, who were between the ages of 12 and 16, according to MCSO.

Dwight Tawan Edwards
Dwight Tawan Edwards

During the investigation, the detective determined that Dwight had allegedly been coercing the juvenile victims into trading sexual favors for cash and items of monetary value for over a year, according to MCSO.

The detective interviewed Dwight’s wife, 33-year-old Jessica Lynn Edwards, and informed her that MCSO would be arresting Dwight as soon as he was located. When MCSO investigators asked for assistance in locating Dwight, Jessica declined.

During the Thanksgiving holiday, MCSO investigators discovered that Jessica had allegedly forced the juvenile victims to have unsupervised contact with Dwight, according to MCSO. Jessica was arrested for two counts of child neglect.

Jessica Lynn Edwards
Jessica Lynn Edwards

A warrant was obtained by MCSO detectives for Dwight’s arrest. According to MCSO, members of the U.S. Marshal’s Florida Caribbean Regional Fugitive Task Force discovered that Dwight was in Georgia, and they contacted the U.S. Marshal’s Southeastern Regional Fugitive Task Force.

On Friday, December 2, the Henry County Police Department arrested Dwight in Stockbridge, Georgia on an MCSO warrant for six counts of human trafficking and six counts of lewd or lascivious battery.

Jessica is currently being held at Marion County Jail on $100,000 bond. A court date has been scheduled at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, January 3, 2023, according to jail records.

Dwight is currently being held at Henry County Jail, and he is awaiting extradition back to Marion County.