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Over 100 Arrests, 100 Survivors In Ohio's Biggest Human Trafficking Sting

Attorney General Dave Yost announcing the results of Operation Autumn Hope at a press conference at the Statehouse.
Office of Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost
Attorney General Dave Yost announcing the results of Operation Autumn Hope at a press conference at the Statehouse.

Around 50 law enforcement agencies have arrested 177 people and found 109 survivors in what’s considered the largest human trafficking sting ever in Ohio.  

Attorney General Dave Yost said Operation Autumn Hope brought in federal, state and local law enforcement to rescue survivors, recover missing kids, catch people seeking sex with minors – usually considered rape – and arresting men seeking to buy sex.

Yost said the problem is still a serious one, with traffickers moving through Ohio and what he calls homegrown operations.  

“We’ve been doing these human trafficking stings for a while now, and yet, we don’t have any diminution of demand," Yost said.

Forty-five of the 109 survivors rescued were children. 

The operation did not include the recent indictment of former Portsmouth city councilmember Michael Mearan, who’s accused of 18 felony charges related to another human trafficking investigation.

This sting had nothing to do with a conspiracy theory involving pedophiles, celebrities and Satanism. But those who've been working in human trafficking have been worried about QAnon.

QAnon promoters, who strongly support President Trump, have also have been holding rallies and posting on social media under the banner of “save the children”. 

Yost, a Republican who also supports Trump, said QAnon is “a conflation of miscellaneous facts and wild imagination” and that it’s unsupported and “doesn’t hold up under scrutiny”.

"It gets in the way of actually seeing what is true, actually understanding the world as it operates. The perceptions of people who otherwise can be helpful are, cane be warped by a false understanding of the world around us," said Yost.

Yost said he’s never been involved in an operation where QAnon interfered or played a role, but again said it’s a hindrance. 

“It’s simply that the flow of information, the reporting of observations can be skewed from the general public," Yost said.

Other experts on human trafficking have said the hijacking of the concerns about missing and exploited children by QAnon could derail the work they’re doing.

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Over 100 Arrests, 100 Survivors In Ohio's Biggest Human Trafficking Sting