A human trafficking sting operation in Ohio identified 53 victims and resulted in 93 arrests, the Ohio attorney general’s office announced on Monday. The operation was also the first time in the state that those seeking to purchase sex were charged with engaging in prostitution.
The sting operation, which took place April 14 and 15, was a partnership between more than 20 law enforcement agencies and nongovernmental organizations. It sought to identify victims of human trafficking, including minors, and apprehend those seeking to buy sex.
“Operation 614 is the latest in a long series of efforts to push back against human trafficking in Ohio,” said Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost in a statement. “I am so proud of our law enforcement partners, who with their boots on the ground, made this operation a success. We all look forward to that day when no person is bought or sold for sex in Ohio.”
Yost also said that this was the first time those purchasing sex were charged under a law that made doing so a misdemeanor in the first degree. The law, which went into effect on April 12, requires an offender to attend a treatment program that seeks to prevent a person from buying sex.
“Human trafficking is a heinous crime and a morally reprehensible act that deprives a person of their liberty and dignity for another person’s gain,” said Sgt. Dana Hess, Director of the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, in a statement. “The task force strives to establish a relationship of trust with all victims and is committed to eradicating all forms of human trafficking in Central Ohio.”
The Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force includes the Columbus Division of Police, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, Adult Parole Authority, Powell Police Department, Salvation Army, Southeast Mental Health Addiction Services and Franklin County Hope Task Force.
The 53 victims identified through the sting were connected to social services.
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