Austintown, OH

Tactics Used

Auto Seizure
Buyer Arrests
Community Service
Employment Loss
Identity Disclosure
IT Based Tactics
John School
License Suspension
Neighborhood Action
Public Education
Reverse Stings
SOAP Orders
Web Stings

Austintown is a census-designated place within Austintown Township, in Mahoning County, Ohio. It has a population of approximately 30,000 residents, and is located near Youngstown. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the city and surrounding communities, and in unincorporated areas of Mahoning County. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates result in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market are homicide and child sex trafficking. For example, in the 1980s and early 1990s, prostitution at truck stops in and near Austintown were known to have high levels of commercial sex activity, and by 1991 a special task force had been established to investigate the homicide of twelve women known to be engaged in prostitution at Austintown and other area truck stops. Local police agencies and the FBI in Ohio also cracked down on truck stop soliciting, in part because of the growing number of murdered women, and made numerous arrests for transporting minors across state lines for prostitution. At the Union 76 stop at Austintown, security booths were built to admit only truckers, and undercover Austintown police patrolled the parking lots several nights a week. While the level of activity at truckstops in Austintown was reduced in the 1990s, it was never eliminated. For example, in 2015 a woman was arrested after an investigation revealed a massage parlor near an Austintown truck stop was operating as a front for a brothel and a money laundering operation. In 2016 a man was arrested and charged with promoting prostitution and taken to Mahoning County Jail after being observed at the Plaza 76 truck stop picking up a woman, and admitted to officers that he served as her pimp and had brought the woman to Plaza 76 so she could meet with a truck driver for sex.

To combat demand for commercial sex, the Austintown Police Department has expanded the crackdown on the online sex trade to include sex buyers. Police had previously been making prostitution arrests after undercover officers answered escort ads posted on online classified websites like and Craigslist. In August of 2017, police conducted an online reverse sting, posting an ad placed by an undercover officer in the online “Women Seeking Men” dating section of a website. Two township police officers and an agent from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation posed as “April” and a man allegedly answered the ad, and sent explicit texts and offered to pay $60 for “full service,” which is a term used in the sex trade for oral sex and intercourse. The man sent a picture of his penis to them and agreed to meet near a motel along Route 46 near Interstate 80. When police spotted the pickup truck described in the texts, the buyer was placed under arrest. He had three $20 bills, condoms, and the phone they say he used to communicate with “April.” He was booked into the Mahoning County Jail on charges of soliciting sex and possessing criminal tools. Authorities consider cell phones used in the commission of a crime a criminal tool.

Also in 2017, Austintown police arrested two other men who responded to “men seeking men” online ads. In those cases, police posed as 15 and 17-year-old boys, and suspects were charged for alleged sex crimes involving a juvenile – including soliciting sex, disseminating material harmful to juveniles, and possessing criminal tools. Police said one of the men sent a text answering an ad posted by an officer in the “Men Seeking Men” dating section, and said it was no problem when the undercover officer sent him a message saying he was only 17-years-old. The officer says the man then offered him $50 to $100 for sex and asked him to send him a picture of his genitals. Previously, a man was charged with two felonies after being arrested by an officer who was posing as a 15-year-old boy.

In January 2021, an Austintown man was arrested and charged in connection with a prostitution investigation on a thirteen-count felony indictment handed up by the Mahoning County Grand Jury. The Woodland Trace resident was charged with seven counts of rape, 4 counts of gross sexual imposition, and two counts of compelling prostitution. His identity was included in news releases.

In August, 2022, an Austintown attorney was accused of soliciting multiple sex acts from an undercover agent posing as a prostituted woman.  The man was sentenced to one year of probation and 20 hours of community service on two amended charges. He had previously been charged with two counts of Engaging in Prostitution, but according to court records, both of these charges were later amended to Disorderly Conduct. The man pled no contest and was found guilty on these charges, and he was fined $150 for each count.

In December, 2022, a 61-year-old man was arrested after investigators say he offered to pay to someone he believed was a teenager in exchange for sex. An indictment states that he arranged to meet with an undercover officer that he believed to be a person between the ages of 13 and 16. He appeared in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court where he pleaded guilty to one count of compelling prostitution. As part of a plea deal, charges of importuning, soliciting, and two counts of possessing criminal tools were dismissed. At a sentencing hearing set for February, 2023,  prosecutors were expected to recommend that the judge sentence him to 18 months in prison, and that he be designated a Tier Two Sex Offender, and recommend against early judicial release from his sentence.

Key Partners

  • Austintown Police Department
  • Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation
  • Ohio’s Interstate Homicide Task Force
  • Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office

Key Sources

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Buyer Arrests, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State Ohio
Type City
Population 29467
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