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Statewide Prostitution Sting Results In Over 200 Arrests

Leila Goldstein

On Monday Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced the results of a statewide sting operation where over 200 buyers and sellers of sex were arrested. Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies were involved in the sting, called Operation Ohio Knows, along with nonprofit organizations.

50 people offering to sell sex and 161 people seeking to buy sex were arrested during the operation last week. The Ohio Attorney General’s office said the sting helped 51 potential human trafficking victims.

Yost said his view on arresting human trafficking victims has become more nuanced as he has listened to more survivors.

“As a former prosecutor, a year ago I would have said you need to arrest, that supervised probation through the criminal court system is critical to helping people navigate the very difficult road to recovery,” he said. “I think everybody in the conversation that is actually familiar with this work recognizes that there are many, many roads to recovery and they don't all look alike.”

The Ohio Attorney General’s office called the operation an anti-human trafficking sting. Human trafficking is a form of exploitation where a person is made to do labor or sex work through force, fraud or coercion. Anyone under the age of 18 engaging in commercial sex is also considered a victim of sex trafficking. Press Secretary Steve Irwin told WYSO he was not aware of any human trafficking charges resulting from the sting.