Human sex trafficking is a widespread crime that has become a primary focus for law enforcement agencies at every level.
In Ohio, for example, the state’s attorney general appears dedicated to rooting out such criminals as the head of a joint task force that recently conducted the largest operation of its kind in the state’s history.
Federal, state, and local resources unite
The effort dubbed Operation Ohio Knows reportedly targeted individuals who attempted to purchase sex.
An undercover officer posed as a minor in some cases and the mission netted at least 161 arrests.
Republican Attorney General Dave Yost offered the latest update in a press conference, noting that federal, state, and local authorities worked alongside social service providers to reduce the overall demand for human sex trafficking.
According to WJW, apprehended suspects came from all walks of life, including a construction contractor, a firefighter, a teacher, a professor, a city council member, and a pilot. One suspect was reportedly arrested with a 2-year-old child in the car.
“If there’s no demand then there will be no market”
“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. “Reducing the demand means we reduce the number of people who are victimized by human trafficking.”
Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant, who also participated in the press conference, revealed that at least 10 missing children had been recovered as a result of the operation.
She noted that local community partners helped coordinate the response across the state, including the courts, healthcare providers, and schools. Nearly 100 individual agencies contributed to the success of the operation.
“Ohio knows what’s going on in our state, Ohio knows what’s going on in our country, and Ohio knows what’s going on in our world,” said Columbus police officer Dana Hess. “So if you’re buying sex from another human being or sexually exploiting another human being for your own personal gain, you better watch out because Ohio knows and we are coming after you.”
According to the Global Organized Crime Index, humans have become the most frequently traded commodity among criminal organizations worldwide.