A two-day human trafficking sting resulted in nearly 100 arrests around Central Ohio. Operation 614 comes on the heels of a new state law penalizing johns.
The Ohio Attorney General’s office and law enforcement agencies carried out Operation 614 in Columbus and its surrounding suburbs on Wednesday and Thursday. Officers found 53 people coerced into sex trafficking and referred them to social services.
Law enforcement arrested 93 johns seeking to purchase sex. Those arrested included a registered sex offender on parole and those seeking sex with juveniles.
Columbus Police was one of 20 agencies that helped carry out the sting. Commander Nick Konves says every woman his department arrested was dealing with addiction.
“I think traditionally prostitution, unfortunately, targeted women, while turning a blind eye to their situations and what they’re going through,” Konves explains.
Konves says the Columbus Police’s PACT Unit focused on trying to prevent future instances of prostitution.
“We have multiple social workers, we have court personnel that come down and give us a hand, representatives of catch court to try to talk to these folks and break the cycle.”
For the first time in Ohio, the johns will be charged with engaging in prostitution, a first-degree misdemeanor. This charge was created under House Bill 431, which became effective on Monday, April 12. Under the new law, an offender will be required to attend an education or treatment program aimed at steering johns away from buying sex.
Other law enforcement agencies involved in the sting included the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, New Albany Police Department and the Grove City Division of Police.
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