AG Yost Announces Results of Statewide Anti-Human Trafficking Sting

AG Yost Announces Results of Statewide Anti-Human Trafficking Sting

Operation ‘Ohio Knows’ Nets 161 Seeking to Buy Sex

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost today announced that 161 people were arrested and 51 potential human trafficking victims were helped in a statewide operation for which nearly 100 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies partnered with non-governmental and nonprofit organizations. The Meigs County Prosecutor’s Office and Meigs County Sheriff’s Office were among the participating organizations in the sting.

Operation Ohio Knows, coordinated through AG Yost’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission (OOCIC), 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 operation included the arrest of 161 individuals seeking to buy sex – three of who sought to buy sex from minors. During the course of the operation, law enforcement officers also arrested individuals who possessed drugs and/or firearms. Most were charged with engaging in prostitution, a first-degree misdemeanor. A change in state law passed in the spring requires those convicted to undergo human trafficking education, a provision promoted by Attorney General Yost to decrease the demand for prostitution. 

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.

Also participating in the press conference with the attorney general was Mandie Knight, a human trafficking survivor, who spoke about the role law enforcement played on her road to recovery.

“When I was being trafficked, I knew that law enforcement was somewhere I could turn to when I needed a safe way out, and that’s what happened,” said Knight, now resource manager for Freedom a la Cart and a wife, mother and student in forensic criminology. “Had I not been arrested, had I not gone to jail, and had I not suffered some consequences for the decisions I was making, I wouldn’t be here today and I wouldn’t be as successful in life.”

Operation Ohio Knows is the latest anti-human trafficking operation under Attorney General Yost, whose office hosts an annual human trafficking summit and provides coordination, education and outreach on the subject.

“The most important work the FBI does is protecting the most vulnerable in our society. Our goal through these efforts is to work with our partners across Ohio to help recover victims and arrest those responsible for their exploitation,” FBI Cincinnati Special Agent in Charge J. William Rivers.

Operation Participants

Akron General Medical Center SANE UnitMeigs County Sheriff’s Office
Akron Municipal RISE CourtMiami Twp. Police Department (Montgomery)
Akron Police DepartmentMonroe County Prosecutor’s Office
Akron Prosecutor’s OfficeMiami Valley Human Trafficking Task Force
Athens City Police DepartmentMonroe County Sheriff’s Office
Athens County Prosecutor’s OfficeMontgomery County RANGE Task Force
Athens County Sheriff’s OfficeMontgomery County Sheriff’s Office
Battered Women’s ShelterMorgan County Prosecutor’s Office
Butler Township Police DepartmentMorgan County Sheriff’s Office
Canopy Child Advocacy CenterNew Albany Police Department
Case Western Reserve Law ClinicNoble County Prosecutor’s Office
Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task ForceNoble County Sheriff’s Office
Circleville Police DepartmentOhio Adult Parole Authority
Cleveland Division of PoliceOhio Bureau of Criminal Investigation
Cleveland Rape Crisis CenterOhio State Highway Patrol
Columbus City Attorney’s OfficeOhio Investigative Unit
Columbus Division of PoliceOhio State University Police Department
Cuyahoga Co. Dept. of Child & Family ServicesOttawa County Sheriff’s Office
Cuyahoga County Regional Human Trafficking Task ForcePickaway County Sheriff’s Office
Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s DepartmentPortage County Prosecutor’s Office
Defiance County Sheriff’s OfficePortage County Sheriff’s Office
Delaware County Prosecutor’s OfficePowell Police Department
Delaware County Sheriff’s OfficeRahab Ministries 
Dublin Police DepartmentRape Crisis Center
Elyria Police DepartmentRenee Jones Empowerment Center
EVE Inc.Rescue and Restore
Federal Bureau of InvestigationReynoldsburg Division of Police
FBI Human Trafficking & Child Exploitation Task ForceSalvation Army
Franklin County CATCH CourtSoutheast Healthcare
Franklin County Juvenile Division Empowerment CourtSoutheastern Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force
Franklin County Prosecutor’s OfficeSpringfield Twp. Police Department (Summit)
Franklin County Sheriff’s OfficeStark County Prosecutor’s Office
Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Hope Task ForceStark County Sheriff’s Office
Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children Task ForceStow Police Department
Gahanna Division of PoliceSumma Detox
Grandview Heights Division of PoliceSummit County Adult Parole Authority
Grove City Division of PoliceSummit County Human Trafficking Task Force
Harriet Tubman MovementSummit County Prosecutor’s Office
Hilliard Division of PoliceSummit County Sheriff’s Office
Homeland Security InvestigationsSummit Detox
Lake County Prosecutor’s OfficeToledo Police Department
Lorain County Prosecutor’s OfficeUnited States Marshal Service
Mariette Police DepartmentUpper Arlington Division of Police
Marietta College Police DepartmentWashington County Prosecutor’s Office
Marysville Division of PoliceWashington County Sheriff’s Office 
Medina County Prosecutor’s OfficeWesterville Police Department
Medina County Sheriff’s OfficeWickliffe Police Department
Meigs County Prosecutor’s Office