Hancock County, 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

Hancock County, Ohio has a population of approximately 67,000 and located in the northwestern region of the state.  Its county seat is the city of Findlay, and other noteworthy communities include Bluffton. Prostitution activity has been well-documented within the county, and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. Among the more serious crimes associated with the local commercial sex market is sex 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. County agencies have supported demand reduction activities in multiple communities, including Findlay and Bluffton.  For example, 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 precise location of the operation 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
  • Findlay Police Department
  • Bluffton Police Department
  • METRICH Enforcement Unit (Metro-Richland County)

Key Sources

Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Buyer Arrest, Identity Disclosure, Loss of Employment:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State Ohio
Type County
Population 75765
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