Man accused in largest human trafficking bust in Lorain County’s history

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ELYRIA, Ohio (WJW) — Lorain County Prosecutor J.D. Tomlinson addressed the public Friday on what the prosecutor’s office called the largest human trafficking bust in the county’s history.

In a press conference, Tomlinson announced that a Lorain County Grand Jury indicted 35-year-old Steven Gilbert on 54 counts including human trafficking and kidnapping.

35-year-old Steven Gilbert (Courtesy of the Lorain County Prosecutor’s Office)

Investigators seized $21k in cash, three Mercedes-Benz and three bank accounts.

There are allegedly as many as nine female victims in the investigation.

Officials say a female, who wanted to get out of that lifestyle, filed charges of rape against her captor. This led to the investigation and indictment.

Tomlinson says these investigations are important for women who are coerced into this life while the average public doesn’t realize the victims are forced into it.

“Some of the public might believe that prostitution is a victim-less crime,” he said. “I think what one learns pretty quickly is that’s not the case. I was surprised personally about what percentage of these involved people that were coerced, or forced, into that life. The average person that may purchase sex-for-hire, in reality, is supporting an industry they have no idea what’s going on.”

Twenty-two suspects of human trafficking were arrested since Tomlinson took officer earlier this year.

Ten missing children were recovered statewide in the operation that’s in cooperation with Attorney General Yost’s, “Ohio Knows.”

The reason the county came forward with this information today is in hopes more people might come forward with information and help free more victims.

If you are a victim or you think you know a victim, contact Lorain County Prosecutor’s Office investigator Garrett Longacre at 440-329-5166.

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