Elyria, 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

Elyria is a city in the Greater Cleveland metropolitan statistical area, and serves as the county seat of Lorain County, Ohio. It is located in Northeast Ohio, about 25 miles southwest of Cleveland, and has a population of approximately 53,000. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the city and unincorporated areas of Lorain 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 April 2013 an online prostitution ring was dismantled by the Elyria police, leading to the arrests of a father and son and a woman. One defendant was charged with promoting prostitution and compelling prostitution, and another was charged with compelling prostitution. The pair had orchestrated a prostitution ring on a website where they advertised a woman under their control who would provide sex for money, according to a police statement. The arrests came about in response to citizens complaining to police about the website.

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 Lorain County Sheriff’s Office and Elyria Police Department have conducted reverse stings. For example, in December 2002, the Elyria Police Department and Lorain County Sheriff’s Department arrested and charged 35 individuals with solicitation during a two-day sting. Numerous citizen complaints fueled the decision to set up the sting, which was paid for with grant money. Police used four undercover female officers in two target areas. One was East 28th Street, Elyria Avenue, and Caroline Avenue, and the other was West 18th Street and Broadway. Undercover agents outfitted with electronic transmitting devices were used as the bait and were monitored by detectives at all times. Anyone who approached the undercover officers during the two six-hour shifts and initiated conversation relative to sexual activity was arrested. Convicted individuals faced up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. The identities of the arrested sex buyers were publicly released.

In 2015, a Cedar Point police officer was assaulted and robbed in an Elyria hotel after meeting and paying a woman for sex. The officer responded to a prostitution ad on Craigslist and had paid the woman he was meeting $100. Before the pair could complete the transaction, the hotel room was stormed by three men and the officer was attacked. The woman was apprehended and charged with complicity to robbery, solicitation, and drug paraphernalia. The sex buyer, who had been working as a Cedar Point police officer and was a part-time Lorain County sheriff’s deputy, resigned from his positions and was charged with a third-degree misdemeanor for soliciting sex (pleaded no contest to the charges).

In October 2021, an Elyria City Councilman was one of 161 sex buyers arrested and charged as the result of a statewide reverse sting, “Operation Ohio Knows,” overseen by the Ohio Attorney General. The Elyria Police Department assisted in the operation and arrested 14 sex buyers. The city councilman had arranged for paid sex through online communications, agreeing to pay $60 for 30 minutes, and confessed to soliciting prostitution after his arrest. The man was charged with misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution and was given a summons to appear in court at a later date. In December the man was found guilty after he pleaded no contest to the third-degree misdemeanor charge, and was ordered to perform 40 hours of community service and pay a $250 fine. He did not resign from the city council because there was an election in five weeks in which voters would have a say. However, the man was defeated in the November election for the 3rd Ward councilman position. He was also placed on leave as a part-time choral director at Lorain County Community College.

Key Partners

  • Elyria Police Department
  • Lorain County Sheriff’s Department
  • Lorain County Prosecutor’s Office
  • Ohio Attorney General


Key Sources

Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Community Service:

Employment Loss, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

State Ohio
Type City
Population 52816
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