Muskingum County, OH

Tactics Used

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

Muskingum County, Ohio has a population of about 86,000 and its county seat is the city of Zanesville.  It is located in central Ohio, about 70 miles east of Columbus on the Interstate 70 corridor. Police have fielded “continuous” complaints about prostitution from residents and businesses, and sex trafficking is known to occur in many areas of the county.  For example, in 2015, a Zanesville man has been indicted on 46 counts, including multiple human trafficking charges; 17 counts of illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance,;11 counts of compelling prostitution; nine counts of unlawful sexual conduct; and additional counts of drug trafficking and weapons offenses.  In September, 2019 an emergency room doctor for Genesis Hospital in Zanesville was among more than 100 arrested as part of a human trafficking sting in Central Ohio.  To address such crimes and problems related to prostitution and sex trafficking, the Muskingum County Sheriff’s Office, Zanesville Police Department, and other partners have conducted at least three street-level reverse stings. In 2007, one such operation employed two female officers from another town’s police department as decoys. The departments then collaborated to form a single “support team” and videotaped undercover officers as they encountered potential sex buyers. Conversations were also recorded by hidden radios and relayed to team members. Over an eight-hour period, nine men were arrested and charged with solicitation. All of the johns’ names, ages and home addresses were released to local news outlets.  In April 2014, three ZPD officers arrested two men in a similar operation.  In September 2014, after receiving several complaints from residents about prostitution activity in the Rindge Avenue area, Zanesville Police conducted a third reversal that netted 10 men for solicitation. When asked about the operation by members of the local media, a ZPD representative noted that they had received “continuous complaints” from individuals living in the neighborhood, and one female resident commented that “the johns solicit every girl around here; they’re even asking women walking with children. I feel like no woman is safe.”

Key Sources

Street-Level Reverse Stings with Shaming:

Web-Based Reverse Stings and Shaming:

Neighborhood Action:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State Ohio
Type County
Population 86215
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