More than 200 arrested, 50 potential victims helped in Ohio human trafficking sting

Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 12:24 AM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVG) - More than 200 people were arrested and 50 potential human trafficking victims helped in the statewide Operation Ohio Knows, according to Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.

The operation, coordinated through Yost’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission, was a collaborative effort that took place from Sept. 24 to Oct. 1 to address issues that fuel sex trafficking in Ohio, WTVG reports.

“People who traffic other humans are doing it for a really simple reason — money. And if there’s no demand then there will be no market,” said Yost during a Monday morning press conference. “Reducing the demand means we reduce the number of people who are victimized by human trafficking. We will not rest until no one in Ohio buys or sells human beings.”

The arrests of 161 individuals seeking to buy sex included three people seeking to buy sex from minors. Law enforcement officers also arrested individuals who possessed drugs and/or firearms. Most were charged with engaging in prostitution, a first-degree misdemeanor.

Among those arrested were a teacher, a professor, a firefighter, a pilot, municipal employees and a city councilman.

Fifty individuals offering to sell sex – men and women – were arrested. Law enforcement officers interviewed 51 potential human trafficking victims, who were provided services from health care and social services organizations.

A simultaneous operation carried out by the U.S. Marshals Service recovered 10 missing children.

Nearly 100 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies partnered with non-governmental and nonprofit organizations on the operation.

“Human trafficking, particularly sex trafficking (the illegal use of vulnerable people to make a profit through sex work), is an issue that the Toledo Police Department takes very seriously,” said Toledo Police Capt. Joseph Heffernan. “By targeting those involved in this crime, we hope to disrupt this activity and provide assistance to human trafficking victims by getting them connected to advocates and resources.”

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