Bluffton, 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

Bluffton is a small village in Allen and Hancock Counties in Ohio, and has a population of about 4,300. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the town and in nearby communities (such as Findlay), and in unincorporated areas of Hancock 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 is child sex trafficking. For example, in 2013, the FBI and local police raided massage parlors in Findlay, which were part of a ring for Asian prostitution and human trafficking.

Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. To identify and apprehend local sex buyers driving the prostitution and sex trafficking markets, the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office and municipal police have conducted reverse stings. For example, in December 2014, the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office conducted an undercover operation in Bluffton and arrested two men for solicitation of prostitution. The location of the arrests was not released. The Hancock-METRICH Enforcement Unit and the Wood County Sheriff’s Office assisted the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office in the reverse sting.

In December 2016, an undercover operation targeting human trafficking in Bluffton resulted in the arrest of four male sex buyers. The arrested men were charged in Findlay Municipal Court with soliciting prostitution, and their identities were included in news releases. The Hancock County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Hancock-METRICH Criminal Task Force and the Wood County Sheriff’s Office. The operation ran from 4 p.m. to about 11 p.m. on one day. The location could not be released as it was used by police for other undercover operations. The operation involved undercover officers posing as prostituted women; the officer would make plans to meet with the suspect and would talk to them before charging them with a crime if they produced enough evidence for probable cause, then the team went in and made the arrest.

Key Partners

  • Hancock County Sheriff’s Office
  • Hancock-METRICH Criminal Task Force
  • Hancock-METRICH Enforcement Unit
  • Wood County Sheriff’s Office

Key Sources

Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

State Ohio
Type City
Population 4268
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