Independence, 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

Independence is a city of about 7,000 residents in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. It is a suburb of Cleveland. Prostitution and sex trafficking have been documented in the city, including cases of child sex trafficking. A wide range of other crimes occurring in the context of the sex trade have also been thoroughly documented in the city.  For example, in February 2022, three people were arrested on charges related to promoting prostitution, and one man was also charged with illegal possession of a firearm. There have also been drug-related arrests associated with the local commercial sex market. In 2014, a man was charged with promoting prostitution and human trafficking, as well as assault on a police officer, after ramming his car into officers’ cars to escape a local hotel after a prostitution investigation.

In efforts to reduce instances of prostitution and sex trafficking, the Independence Police Department has participated in web-based reverse sting operations targeting individuals seeking to purchase commercial sex. For example, in September 2019, the Independence Police Department, along with over 30 other local law enforcement agencies, took part in a multi-organization team to combat human trafficking in central Ohio. The web-based reverse sting operation, “Fourth and Goal,” led by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Columbus Division of Police, and Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, resulted in the arrest of 104 individuals on prostitution-related charges, including 40 soliciting prostitution charges, 53 felony charges, and 24 charges for importuning and attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. One individual faced additional charges of attempted rape and another faced an additional charge of disseminating matter harmful for juveniles. All charges concerning minors were felonies. Additionally, 43 women were provided with social services and referred to CATCH Court. Agencies and social service organizations involved in the operation included the following: the Independence Police Department, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, Cuyahoga Regional Human Trafficking Task Force, and a collaboration of at least 20 additional police departments, sheriff’s offices, prosecutor’s offices, and task forces. Many of those arrested, according to reports, also faced additional charges for attempting to solicit a minor. The names of all offenders were released to the public, and local news outlets showed mugshots for those charged for importuning a minor.

In October 2020, the Independence Police Department participated in another sting operation to “suppress sex buyers” that resulted in two felony arrests at a local hotel. Not many details were released about the operation, but it was conducted in collaboration with the Orange and Beachwood police departments, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, Cuyahoga County Regional Human Trafficking Task Force, and Homeland Security.

Key Partners

  • Independence Police Department
  • Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office
  • Cuyahoga Regional Human Trafficking Task Force
  • Ohio Attorney General’s Office
    • Bureau of Criminal Investigation
  • Columbus Division of Police
  • Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force
  • Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission
  • Mahoning County Human Trafficking Task Force
  • Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office
  • Dublin Police Department
  • Hilliard Police Department
  • Austintown Police District
  • Franklin County CATCH Court
  • Grove City Police Department
  • Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office
  • Powell Police Department
  • Southeast Mental Health Addiction Services
  • Salvation Army
  • Columbus Public Health
  • Franklin County Sheriff’s Office
  • Delaware County Sheriff’s Office
  • Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office
  • Ohio Investigative Unit
  • Columbus City Attorney
  • U.S. Attorney for Southern Ohio
  • Franklin County ICAC Task Force
  • Franklin County HOPE Task Force
  • Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office
  • Fairfield County Prosecutor’s Office
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Orange Police Department
  • Beachwood Police Department
  • Department of Homeland Security

Key Sources

Web-Based Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

State Ohio
Type City
Population 7167
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