COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) — Local arrests were made as part of a state-wide crackdown on human trafficking.
One hundred and sixty people were arrested across Ohio over the past week, Attorney General Dave Yost announced Monday.
The weeklong effort, named “Operation Buyer’s Remorse,” sought to arrest those trying to buy sex and to identify survivors of human trafficking.
Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene said some local suspects were picked up.
“I think we had 23 arrests. Four of the 23 were females,” Green said.
Led by Yost’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission (OOCIC), Operation “Buyer’s Remorse” was a collaborative effort that took place from Sept. 25-30 in every corner of the state, including in and around Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo, Akron, Youngstown, Marietta and Portsmouth.
The operation led to 160 arrests and comprised coordinated “stings” conducted by OOCIC’s eight human trafficking and major crimes task forces. The task forces’ work was amplified by numerous local law enforcement agencies that also conducted anti-human trafficking operations. Additionally, search warrants were conducted at 11 massage parlors suspected of human trafficking activities as part of ongoing, long-term investigations.
Yost said the Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force arrested Jordan Perez, 35, of Masury, Ohio, on charges of engaging in prostitution and possessing criminal tools. Perez brought a firearm to buy sex but did not bring any money, according to a news release from Yost’s office. He claimed he intended to pay for sexual services via a web app, Yost said.
“Nearly 100 law enforcement agencies and service organizations participated in this operation – I am grateful for each and every partner who dedicated their time and resources, as we all play a key role in the fight against human trafficking,” Yost said. “Our message is simple: Don’t buy sex in Ohio!”
Over the course of the week, 149 “Johns” seeking to buy sex were arrested and charged with engaging in prostitution, the release stated. Additional arrests included two individuals for seeking to have sex with minors and six for promoting prostitution. Others were arrested for illegally possessing narcotics and/or firearms, or because there were outstanding warrants against them.
“The goal, especially of the attorney general, is to really reduce demand. If you’re arresting the Johns, you’re reducing demand for this type of illegal trade,” Greene said.
Those arrested come from all backgrounds, including EMTs, nurses, educators, retirees, former law enforcement officers, self-employed individuals, delivery drivers and others. The youngest “John” arrested was 17, and the oldest was 84, according to the release.
Law enforcement officers interviewed 104 survivors of human trafficking, who were provided services from health care and social service organizations.
Yost highlighted some of the local arrests — read below for the list of suspects he mentioned:
- Robert Ashbaugh, 52, New Castle
- Brian Spayde, 42, Youngstown
- Deshawn Evans, 26, Austintown
- Rontrell White, 34, Youngstown
- Travis Swidzinski, 37, Youngstown
- Robert Chaussar, 65, Jamestown, PA
- Ralph Fabrizio, 48, Hubbard, OH
- Jordan Perez, 35, of Masury
- Kevin Smith, 62, Warren
- Michael Bender, 41, Warren, OH
Dave Sess contributed to this report.