Sting Sex Trafficking at the Source... Its Buyers

Sting Sex Trafficking at the Source... Its Buyers

September 23, 2019

Authorities have arrested more than 100 people in a massive child sex trafficking sting in central Ohio. Yes, you heard correctly: 100 people, in the state of Ohio, for child sex trafficking. The Homeland Security special agent in charge of the investigation warned, "We are just scratching the surface... it's that way across the country."

Human trafficking, particularly for sex, is a global enterprise -- and the United States is, unfortunately, the leader in driving demand. Because human trafficking is no small business, this Ohio sting operation involved more than 30 law enforcement agencies.

As reported by The Columbus Dispatch, "[a] report commissioned for the city of Columbus last year found that the National Human Trafficking Resource Center in 2015 received 1,066 trafficking calls from Ohio, the fourth-highest volume in the country. Central Ohio rescue groups have served more than 700 human-trafficking victims since 2008; girls between the ages of 12 and 18 are at the highest risk."

The child sex-trafficking ring outed by this particular sting was not operated on the streets or in dark alleys as one might expect but on the internet. The perpetrators defied stereotypes as well. Among the arrested suspects were an emergency room doctor and a church youth director! Traffickers and predators can be anyone.

In his remarks relating to the sting, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R) acknowledged the "real dangers on the internet for children." He continued, "[c]riminals involved in trafficking other human beings prey upon those individuals that are already at risk, subjecting them to prostitution and addiction. . .. Predators who seek to harm our children and grandchildren are not hiding in the bushes, they're lurking on the internet."

In this sting operation, law enforcement officers posed as the underage boys and girls with whom the predators initiated online chats. But the sting was not focused merely on "internet predators, but human traffickers and the men who feed the sex trade with their dollars."

In a bipartisan effort to target the buyers of sex, Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) and Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) recently introduced the Sex Trafficking Demand Reduction Act, which would amend the minimum standards of combatting sex trafficking (contained in the current Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000) to include language prohibiting the purchase of sex.

Without buyers, you lower the demand for sex trafficking. Buying human beings should be unacceptable behavior, and one way to make it unacceptable is by penalizing said behavior. Passing the Sex Trafficking Demand Reduction Act would paint a clear line between what is ethically right and what is wrong and would be a great step in the right direction for our culture. You can read more about the bill here.

Of the 104 arrested, there were 24 male suspects (ranging in age from 20 to 59) accused of attempting unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and importuning, 43 women accused of selling sex, 36 men accused of trying to buy sex, and one man accused of promoting prostitution.

Thanks to years of human trafficking advocacy, our society knows so much more about the realities of the business of sexual exploitation than we once did. Thankfully, the 43 women arrested for selling sex are now in what Ohio calls CATCH Court (Changing Actions To Change Habits), a two-year treatment-oriented program and specialty docket for women in the system who are victims of human trafficking. No matter what kind of spin liberal activists may use, "pimp" and "prostitute" are erroneous and outdated terminology for what we now know as the business of sex trafficking. Arresting the victims is not the perfect system, but at least for now, it has proved to be the most effective means of getting the trafficked away from their traffickers and into safety. (Oftentimes victims do not see themselves as victims due to the manipulative grooming of the trafficker).

One thing is certain: we need to arrest more of the buyers of sex. The law needs to continue driving a long, hard stake into the ground with a sign that reads: our women, boys, and girls are not for sale.

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