YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A total of 34 people in the Valley have been arrested, accused of trying to meet children online for sex.
The Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office and Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force conducted an undercover sting over the past couple of months called “Operation Full Court Press.”
Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene says he knows predators continue to be out in search of underage victims, but law enforcement is not going away either.
Over the weekend, agents with the Valley’s Human Trafficking Task force staged another of their sting operations, arresting 20 people from the area and from as far away as western Pennsylvania and Ashtabula.
“Our chatters are on. Every single website, chatroom, every platform that’s out there we basically are looking at,” Greene said. “I’d like to be able to say that we’re making a difference; however, with this last three-day operation, arrested 20, this is four better than we’ve done in the past.
Each of those caught is now facing felony charges after they drove to an undisclosed location looking to have sex with what they thought were underage children — only to be arrested and handcuffed at gunpoint.
“I want anybody out there that’s looking at trying to exploit or take advantage of somebody that’s underage, that they may be talking to us,” Greene said.
In addition to staging this operation over a three-day weekend, the sheriff says the program also focused in on suspects in Columbiana County, catching 14 men over the months of June and July.
“And this is why we as parents need to be cognizant, be paying attention to what our children are looking at and who they’re talking to,” Greene said.
In the past, many of those arrested in these stings have managed to escape lengthy prison sentences, but most spend the rest of their lives with criminal records, labeled as “sexual predators.”
“Meaning that we have an eye on the individuals, wherever they live. Hopefully, that’ll slow them down a little bit, you know, in the future,” Greene said.
In the meantime, Greene says Task Force members won’t be going away anytime soon.
From June 1 through July 29, 14 people were arrested in Columbiana County.
From July 30 through August 1, 20 people were arrested in Mahoning County.
- Patrick Adams
- Scotty Akins
- Brendan Beasor
- Ruben Saucedo Beccera
- Michael Boyle
- Roy Brock III
- Raymond Byler
- David Collica
- Rafael Cortes
- Bruce Crawford
- Matthew Davis
- Brian Evans
- Daniel Evans
- Randy Fennell
- Donald Griffin
- William Hebron
- Dakota Hoffaker
- Randall Keirns
- Jay Kelly
- Andrei Makarov
- Richard McLemore
- Daryll McLendon
- Phillipe Miguel
- Mark Reda
- Brian Rogers
- Ruben Saucedo
- Charles Schell
- Gary Seevers
- Kenneth Smart
- James Smiley
- Anthony Smith
- Howard Sweitzer
- Joseph Whittengham
- Mark Young
- Nikitas Zirounis
The men are facing multiple charges, including things like attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, possession of criminal tools, importuning and illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material.
The suspects come from all walks of life including a business owner, truck driver, factory workers and an insurance salesman, among others.
On Tuesday, those caught over the weekend will be making their first appearances in front of a judge in Mahoning County.
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