Updated: Sep 16, 2021
Written by AJ Crow and Edited by Mrunmayee Jere
Cover Art by Beatrice Daccache and Devyanee Dalmia
At times, the battle against human trafficking can feel futile, but a two-day sting operation coordinated through Attorney General Dave Yost’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission has secured a recent victory for both victims of human trafficking and members of law enforcement.
“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,” remarked Sergeant Dana Hess, Director of the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force. “The task force strives to establish a relationship of trust with all victims and is committed to eradicating all forms of human trafficking in Central Ohio.” Sgt. Hess is among many other law enforcement officials who took part in Operation 614, a multi-agency effort culminating in the arrest of 93 individuals as well as the recovery of 53 human trafficking victims, bringing hope for a world where no person is ever bought, sold, or traded off like goods.
According to Attorney General Yost, “Operation 614 is the latest in a long series of efforts to push back against human trafficking in Ohio.” Ohio, a widely recognized hub for human trafficking, has made significant steps towards bringing an end to the criminal enterprise of human trafficking. For the very first time in Ohio, those seeking to purchase sex were charged with engaging in prostitution, a first-degree misdemeanor. This charge was created under House Bill 431 and under the new law, an offender will be mandated to attend an education or “treatment” program aimed at preventing an individual from inducing, enticing, or procuring another to engage in sexual activity for hire.
Carried out in the city of Columbus and its surrounding suburbs, Operation 614 not only apprehended and arrested those seeking to have sex with minors and male “johns” seeking to buy sex, but also identified victims of human trafficking and referred them to social services. The successful sting operation encompassed over 20 law enforcement agencies and nongovernmental partners at federal, state and local levels. “I am so proud of our law enforcement partners, who with their boots on the ground, made this operation a success.” said Ohio Attorney General Yost.
Although one success pales in comparison to the vastness of the human trafficking epidemic, Operation 614 has offered a beacon of hope for all victims of human trafficking as well as paved the way for other law enforcement agencies to follow.
“News Releases.” AG Dave Yost Announces Success of Central Ohio Human Trafficking
Sting 'Operation 614' - Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, Ohio Attorney General, 16 Apr. 2021, www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Media/News-Releases/April-2021/AG-Dave-Yost-Announces-Success-of-Central-Ohio-Hum.