Lorain County, OH

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Web stings
License suspension

Lorain County is located in northeastern Ohio, classified as withing the Cleveland-Elyria, OH Metropolitan Statistical Area, and has a population of about 300,000. Its county seat is Elyria. Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the communities and unincorporated areas of the county.  This activity 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 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. In July 2013, two people from Lorain County were charged with human trafficking involving four victims. The indictment accused the pair of giving the victims, which includes a minor, a substance containing heroin and cocaine, telling them that they had an outstanding drug debt to pay back then forcing them to have sex for money to pay-off the debt. After some investigative work, authorities discovered that the pair had posted “escort” advertisements for the female victims online. They used narcotics to gain control over their victims and forced them to engage in sex acts to produce profits for themselves.  In 2015, a prostitution sting in the town of Lorain led to the arrest of four women, all charged with loitering to engage in solicitation.

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 could face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. he identities of the arrested sex buyers were publicly released.

Key Partners

  • Lorain County Sheriff’s Department
  • Elyria Police Department
  • FBI
State Ohio
Type County
Population 307924
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