Fifty men were arrested during the Major League Baseball All-Star festivities this week for soliciting prostitution.
Most were from the Cleveland area and more than half of them were trying to arrange sexual encounters with minors. Alison Holm has more.
While attention was focused on the field for the MLB All-Star Game activities in Cleveland, a coalition of 16 law enforcement agencies, the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force and the Ohio Internet Crimes against Children Task Force ran two undercover sting operations. Operation Home Run focused on men soliciting for prostitution. Ohio Attorney General David Yost says prostitution is closely tied to human trafficking.
"Without people willing to buy sex there is no market. Without a market, there is no human trafficking. And a person who is buying sex has no idea whether that person is voluntarily selling her own body or whether she is under duress, whther she is being coerced by addiction or the threat of force."
Sergant Mark Rapp of the Columbus Division of Police and the head of the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force says arresting 'johns' is a cruicial part of breaking the cycle of human trafficking. "
"A lot of people ignore this part of the human trafficking. You always have a victim, and you always have traffickers, but you also aways have that buyer willing to fund human trafficking by funneling money into the buying of commercial sex."
The 21 men arrested in Operation Home run are facing several charges including misdemeanor solicitation. A second sting, "Operation Triple Play", focused on those wanting to have sex with a minor and led to 29 arrests. While the link between prostitution and large sporting events or conventions is well known, the problem occurs year round. Ohio is ranked fourth in the nation for human trafficking, behind only California, Texas and Florida. More information on the arrests is available at the Ohio Attorney General's website.