COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) – A state-wide human trafficking investigation that took place over the weekend ended in the arrest of 35 “Johns” looking to buy sex and 21 others looking to buy sex from minors.
Information released from Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office said the raids took the help of almost 100 law enforcement agencies from across the state.
Here in Northeast Ohio, the busts included suspected sex trafficking activity at three area massage parlors.
Detectives locally rescued several women believed to be forced into sex work.
“On my watch, those who keep human traffickers in business are going to pay a price along with the traffickers themselves,” Yost said. “My office, with the vital help of our many law enforcement partners, is committed to going after the demand side of this contemptible exploitation of vulnerable young women and girls.”
If convicted, many of those arrested must undergo human trafficking education, also known as “John school.”
The 21 arrested for attempting to buy sex from minors face felony charges.
It’s a common practice in these types of stings for law enforcement to interview the men and women offering to sell sex. Those individuals are offered medical and social services. Officials explain that intervention can help pull victims out of the trafficking trap and potentially save lives.
“It is time to challenge and change our attitudes about human trafficking,” said Columbus Division of Police Chief Elaine Bryant. “Through partnerships with the nearly 900 local law enforcement agencies in the state of Ohio, the Columbus Division of Police is committed to a holistic, deliberate collaboration to address this complex issue plaguing our communities. We must all raise our voices and be dedicated to preventing future victims from being exploited by these perpetrators.”
Interviews with victims and suspects can lead to additional tips.
In July, two Cuyahoga County residents were indicted on charges of trafficking multiple women. Attorney General Dave Yost’s office says these indictments stemmed from a previous sting by the Cuyahoga Regional Human Trafficking Task Force.