Ohio AG: 51 potential human trafficking victims helped in Operation Ohio Knows

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost(Provided by the Ohio Attorney General's Office)
Published: Oct. 4, 2021 at 12:53 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVG) - More than 50 potential human trafficking victims were helped in a statewide operation called Operation Ohio Knows, according to Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.

Yost announced that 161 people were arrested during the operation that helped 51 potential victims. Nearly 100 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies partnered with non-governmental and nonprofit organizations.

The operation, coordinated through AG 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.

“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,” Yost said Monday morning during a press conference at the Statehouse, where he was joined by leaders of law enforcement agencies and social service organizations. “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.

“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,” Toledo Police captain Joseph Heffernan said. “The Toledo Police Department has been a partner with the FBI’s Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Task Force for many years combating these types of crimes. 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. We are happy to partner with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and other law enforcement agencies throughout Ohio in participating in Operation Ohio Knows.”

Local organizations that participated in Operation Ohio Knows included: Defiance County Sheriff’s Office; Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office; and Toledo Police Department.

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