Cortland is a city in Trumbull County, Ohio, with a population of about 6,800. It is located on the eastern shore of Mosquito Creek Reservoir about 20 miles north of Youngstown (part of that city is in Trumbull County, the remainder in Mahoning). Prostitution activity have been well-documented in Cortland and in nearby communities (such as Warren), and in unincorporated areas of Trumbull County. This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. For example, in April, 2016 three people were charged in Cortland after police responded to a report of a missing bank card. One man called police to report that a man and woman who were visiting his apartment took his bank card and didn’t return it. He also told police that when the other man left the apartment to pick up a friend, he paid the woman $40 to have sex with him. All three were charged with offenses including theft, complicity to theft, and compelling prostitution.
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. The Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office has collaborated with local law enforcement agencies within the county, including the Cortland Police Department and area task forces, on other operations as well. For example, in July 2019 the Ohio Attorney and Cuyahoga County Prosecutor announced stings in Northeast Ohio carried out during MLB All-Star Week. Investigators called the efforts “Operation Triple Play” and “Operation Home Run.” At least 49 adults went to court on charges of soliciting prostitution, and other offenses including felony charges of Attempted Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a Minor, Importuning, Possess Criminal Tools and Attempting Corruption with Drugs. These and other offenses occurred when offenders chatted online with officers posing as teens, and arranged to purchase sex. Undercover agents from the Cuyahoga County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force participated in the operations, with the arrests targeting human trafficking around local hotels. Those arrested for trying to purchase sex with children ranged in age from their 20s to their 60s. The AG’s Office posted a news release that included the identities of all 49 people arrested. Across both operations, participating law enforcement agencies included: The Ohio Attorney General’s Office; Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission, Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force (Columbus Division of Police, Ohio Investigative Unit), Mahoning County Human Trafficking Task Force (Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification & Investigation), Cuyahoga Regional Human Trafficking Task Force (Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, Independence Police Department), the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the Office of Cuyahoga County Prosecutor, Newburgh Heights Police Department, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cleveland Police, U.S. Secret Services, Austintown Township Police Department, Solon Police Department, Streetsboro Police Department, Cortland Police Department and the Kent Police Department.
- Cortland Police Department
- Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office
- Trumbull County jail
- Cuyahoga County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force
- Cuyahoga Regional Human Trafficking Task Force (Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, Independence Police Department)
- Warren Police Department
- Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force
- Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation
Web-Based Reverse Stings, Shaming:
- https://fox8.com/2019/07/11/i-team-exposes-suspected-predators-arrested-in-local-sex-sting/ (2019)
- https://fox8.com/2019/07/11/authorities-to-release-more-info-on-sex-stings-during-all-star-week/ (2019)
- https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/July-2019/Human-Trafficking-Task-Forces-Arrest-49 (2019)
- https://www.morningjournal.com/local-suspects-arrested-in-human-trafficking-operations (2019)
- https://www.wytv.com/youngstown-men-arrested-in-child-sex-sting-during-all-star-game-in-cleveland/ (2019)
- https://highlandcountypress.com/Chillicothe-man-among-49-arrested-Human-Trafficking-Task-Force-operations-in-Cuyahoga-County (2019)
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:
- “Massage Parlors Thrive in Blue-Collar Warren; Businesses Concern City Leaders”, Cleveland Plain Dealer, December 27 2000.
- “Massage Parlors’ Warren Lawyer Cites Case”, Youngstown Vindicator, February 15 2012.
- “AG Investigation Turned Up Prostitution at Warren Massage Parlors”, Youngstown Vindicator, May 30 2012.
- “Ohio AG Serves Warrant at 8 Warren Spas”, NBC/WFMJ-TV 21, June 9 2012.
- “In Warren, 8 Spas Agree to Shut Down for One Year; Deal Follows Raids, Prostitution Probe”, Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 28 2012.
- “Massage Parlors Dismiss Lawsuit”, Youngstown Vindicator, August 31 2012.
- “Woman Charged with Prostitution Faces Lesser Charge”, NBC/WFMJ-TV 21, April 29 2013.
- http://newburghheightsohio.weebly.com/police-bulletin-page.html (2013)
- “Newton Falls Man Accused of Compelling a Minor into Prostitution”, NBC/WFMJ-T 21, May 16 2014.
- “Newton Falls Man Faces Sex Charges”, Youngstown Vindicator, May 16 2014.
- “Man Charged with Pimping Out Teen”, CBS/WKBN-TV 27, July 29 2014.
- “Man Accused in Child Sex Case Changes Plea”, ABC/WYTV-TV 33, October 2 2014.
- http://www.wfmj.com/story/35557980/cortland-man-accused-of-driving-prostitute-to-appointment (2017)
- https://www.vindy.com/news/2017/may/31/they-got-their-wishh-prostitution-sting-nets-pair/ (2017)
- https://www.wkbn.com/local-news/police-cortland-man-drove-prostitutes-to-appointments/1067811352 (2017)
- https://www.wkyc.com/article/news/gina-dejesus-highlights-human-trafficking-in-cleveland-walk-for-freedom (2018)
- https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/2017 Human Trafficking Commission Report OHIO (2018)