The Cuyahoga County Sheriff Department took part in Operation Autumn Hope last week, an anti-human trafficking effort that led to 46 arrests and the recovery of 26 victims.
The operation brought together local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to identify potential human trafficking victims, their traffickers, and those who seek to purchase commercial sex.
In 2019, these efforts in Ohio led to 200 arrests, the rescue of 120 human trafficking victims, and 250 referrals to services, according to an Ohio Attorney General report.
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“Sex trafficking has the potential to effect any community. Sex trafficking may appear to be a victimless crime, but it is not,” said County Chief Deputy Bryan Smith. “It is a crime that hides and operates in plain sight. Those who profit off the sale of human beings are a catalyst of devastation towards individuals, families, and communities. Those who buy or rent a person are as equally culpable in the degradation of the individual and their community. Conducting proactive undercover sting operations is an effective tactic used to curtail that devastation.”
“Let this operation be a warning for those who sell human beings: you are not welcome in Ohio or Cuyahoga County,” Chief Smith continued.
The Cuyahoga County Sheriff Department is a longtime member of the Cuyahoga Regional Human Trafficking Task Force. Partners in the operation included:
- Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office
- U.S. Homeland Security Investigations
- Ohio Investigative Unit
- Independence Police Department
- Beachwood Police Department
- Middleburg Heights Police Department
- Orange Police Department
- Westlake Police Department
- Chagrin Valley Dispatch
- Renee Jones Empowerment Center
- Cleveland Rape Crisis
- Case Western Reserve University Human Trafficking Law Clinic
- Cuyahoga County Department of Children and Family Services
- The Salvation Army