93 arrests made in human trafficking bust near Columbus

COLUMBUS — Twenty law enforcement agencies partnered to take down a human trafficking ring in the Columbus area arresting 93 people in the process.

The plan called Operation 614 was coordinated through Attorney General Dave Yost’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission.

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“Human trafficking is a heinous crime and a morally reprehensible act that deprives a person of their liberty and dignity for another person’s gain,” said Sgt. Dana Hess, Director of the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force.

In the successful operation April 14 and 15, 53 victims of human trafficking were identified and referred to social services, those who had been seeking sex with a minor were apprehended, and anyone seeking to buy sex was arrested, stated a press release from the attorney general.

The results of Operation 614 allowed for those seeking to purchase sex to be charged with engaging in prostitution for the first time in Ohio.

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The charge was created under House Bill 431, which went into effect April 12. Under the new law, an offender will be required to attend an education or treatment program aimed at preventing a person from inducing, enticing or procuring another to engage in sexual activity for hire, the release stated.

“These investigations are complex and require the collaboration of many law enforcement agencies,” said Michael Woods, Interim Chief of the Columbus Division of Police.

“The excellent teamwork of all agencies involved in the operation made this success possible. We will continue to hold the individuals that prey on vulnerable victims and harm our community responsible.”

The Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, formed under the Organized Crime Investigations Commission, includes the Columbus Division of Police, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, Adult Parole Authority, Powell Police Department, Salvation Army, Southeast Mental Health Addiction Services and Franklin County Hope Task Force.

The other agencies and entities that participated in Operation 614 were the Columbus Division of Police’s P.A.C.T Unit, Dublin Police Department, FBI, Grandview Heights Police Department, Grove City Division of Police, Hilliard Division of Police, New Albany Police Department, Ohio State University Police Department, Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office, Reynoldsburg Division of Police, Upper Arlington Police Department, Westerville Division of Police and Sanctuary Night.

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