Trafficking task force

CLEVELAND -- Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley on Thursday announced the success of two concurrent Human Trafficking Task Force operations during the past week’s professional baseball festivities.

“Here’s a billboard for sexual predators: Don’t buy sex in Ohio,” Yost said. “There’s no safe haven for these crimes in our state, and my office and local law enforcement partners are committed to keeping it that way.”

Mark Rapp, director of the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, said, "Buyers soliciting for prostitution are sex predators who fund the human trafficking behind the scenes, where pimps profit from exploiting the vulnerabilities of their victims.

“Men who buy sex may think they are a party to a victimless crime. They couldn't be more wrong, the women advertised for paid sexual services are often trafficked through commercial sex," Rapp said.

Cleveland was the site of this week's Major League Baseball All-Star game and related events.

Operation Homerun, a prostitution demand initiative, was conducted by the Attorney General’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission (OOCIC), the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force and the Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force. The operation netted 21 arrests for individuals soliciting for prostitution.

“The difference between these guys and Jeffrey Epstein is only a matter of degree,” Yost said.

Operation Triple Play, an initiative focused on those seeking to engage in sexual activity with whom they believed to be minor children, was led by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force.

The operation arrested 28 individuals that could face felony charges of Attempted Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor, Importuning, Possess Criminal Tools and Attempting Corruption with Drugs.

“Online predators are a hidden threat to children throughout this community. The success of this operation should serve as a stern reminder to perpetrators – if you attempt to exploit children online, we will catch you,” O’Malley said. 

None of the 49 individuals arrested were from north central Ohio.

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