Two Sting Operations Led To Arrest Of 50 Men During All-Star Weekend
Operation Home Run and Operation Triple Play took place over four days and led to the arrest of 50 men, most of them local.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost says Operation Home Run focused on arresting “johns” who solicit women, not knowing if they are victims of human trafficking.
"A person who's buying sex has no idea whether that person is voluntarily selling her own body or whether she is under duress, or whether she's being coerced, whether she is chained to a drug addiction and forced by that addiction or by the threat of force to engage in these activities," Yost said. "And because you have no way of knowing that you are taking a substantial risk.”
Columbus Division of Police Sergeant Mark Rapp says it's been harder to track human trafficking since federal law enforcement shut down the online advertising webpage "Backpage."
"Twenty-one arrests in two days is a lot since the removal of Backpage,” said Sergeant Rapp. "Now the ads are spread out to multiple commercial sex sites out on the Internet. So it's much harder to focus down your arrests. We were still successful in getting 21 arrests out of this."
The men arrested in Operation Home Run face several charges including solicitation, which is a misdemeanor.
A second sting, Operation Triple Play and led by the Ohio Internet Crimes against Children Task Force, focused on those seeking sex with a minor.
Through online conversations, suspects between the ages of 20 to 67 agreed to come to a home in Newburg Heights — where they were arrested.
Police Chief John Majoy says the success of Operation Triple Play shows how children are at risk from online predators.
"The innocence of children has benn preyed upon too often," said Majoy. "And we know it can bring about tragic results. That said, let this be a reminder to all parents: monitor your child's activity and educate them about the dangers they face as children today."
Homeland Security Acting Deputy Special Agent in Charge George Dolce said the Triple Play operation shows how dangerous the internet can be.
"The number of abusers are too large and elusive,” he said. “The law enforcement community will do our part but we cannot do it alone. We urge parents of young people to arm themselves with the resources and information to aid us in this fight."
The Operation Triple Play sting resulted in 28 arrests and one additional arrest the day after it closed out; those men face multiple charges, including attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.