Kent is the largest city in Portage County, Ohio, and is located along the Cuyahoga River in the Northeastern part of the state. The population is roughly 30,000. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented throughout the county, and in the region. For example, between 2017 and 2019, state and federal agencies assisted local law enforcement agencies in an investigations in numerous cities and counties in Northeast Ohio for alleged commercial sex crimes. The raids were part of a collaborative investigation between the Ohio Investigative Unit, the U.S. Secret Service, and local law enforcement agencies. The investigation started in 2017 when agents were tipped off about possible illegal activity. In addition to Medina County, 15 other search warrants were executed in Avon, Broadview Heights, Brunswick, Cleveland, Columbia Station, Copley, Kent, Lorain, Mansfield, North Royalton, Perkins Township, Strongsville, and Wooster. In some communities, search warrants were executed at multiple locations.
Consumer-level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies in their strategy for prevention and response. For example, in July, 2019, the Kent Police Department and the Streetsboro Police Department were two of the many law enforcement agencies working to arrest a total of 49 people suspected of engaging in human trafficking during the Cleveland All-Star baseball game weekend. The four-day undercover operation led by the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force was intended to identify and arrest individuals interested in engaging in sexual activity with persons they believed to be minor children. The men — as young as 20 and as old as 67 — each engaged in sexually explicit online conversations with undercover task force officers posing as children. Contact was made through popular social media sites and the defendants expressed an interest having sex or sending sexually explicit photos during the online conversations. When a plan was made to meet at a vacant house, police apprehended the men.
- Kent Police Department
- Streetsboro Police Department
- Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force
Web-Based Reverse Sting, Shaming:
- http://www.medina-gazette.com/Cops-and-Courts/2019/07/12/3-county-men-arrested-in-child-sex-sting-during-All-Star-weekend.html (2019)
- https://www.cleveland19.com/2019/07/11/ohio-ranks-fourth-national-human-trafficking/ (2019)
- https://www.ohio.com/news/20190712/28-men-charged-with-seeking-sex-from-children-in-northeast-ohio-sting (2019)
- https://www.record-courier.com/news/20190711/kent-streetsboro-police-help-arrest-human-traffickers (2019)
Background on Local Prostitution and Sex Trafficking: