Trumbull 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

Trumbull County is in northeast Ohio and has a population of just over 200,000 residents. Its county seat is the city of  Warren. The county is part of the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA Metropolitan Statistical Area. Sex trafficking and prostitution have been identified as substantial problems in the county. For example, over the course of 2011 and 2012, Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation conducted a yearlong undercover investigation in response to complaints about prostitution occurring at massage parlors in Warren. The main goal of the operation was to continue the nuisance abatement action against the businesses that had their licenses revoked or suspended by Warren’s Health Department for hosting illegal commercial sex. However, the case also included subpoenas served to and arrests of men who frequented massage parlors operating as brothels. The men’s names were publicly released as part of the criminal justice system process. In April 2016, three people were charged in Cortland after police responded to a report of a missing bank card. One man called police to report that a man and woman who were visiting his apartment took his bank card and didn’t return it. He also told police that when the other man left the apartment to pick up a friend, he paid the woman $40 to engage in commercial sex with him. All three were charged with offenses including theft, complicity to theft, and compelling prostitution.

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. For example, in November 2017, ten men were charged after agents with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Warren Police Department, and other agencies posed as prostituted persons on social media, talked with potential sex buyers, and invited them to a Warren motel. There was a large number of responses from men who arranged meetings for sex and were immediately taken into custody when they arrived at the motel. All were booked into the Trumbull County jail and released. The identities of the men arrested were publicly released.

On April 18, 2018, six men allegedly seeking sex (as well as two sex traffickers/pimps) were arrested in a reverse sting conducted by the Warren Police Department, agents with the Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force, and other agencies. The web-based sting involved individuals seeking to buy sex through use of an ad posted on a social media website. Investigators participated in text conversations, some of which were sexually explicit in asking for sex from the agent. Men in those conversations were directed to meet at a prearranged location in the city, where they were arrested, interviewed, taken to the Trumbull County jail, and charged with soliciting prostitution and possessing criminal tools (the cellphones used to make the phone calls or texts). In August 2018, the Warren City Street Crimes Unit conducted an undercover sting targeting sex buyers and arrested three men who tried to make a deal with a prostituted woman who turned out to be an undercover officer working a sting on city streets. Two of the men asked the officer for oral sex in exchange for $5 and $10 respectively. The other man asked the undercover officer to watch him masturbate in exchange for $20.

In March 2020, eight men from five different counties were arrested and charged in a prostitution sting in Trumbull County. The Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office, along with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Mahoning County Human Trafficking Task Force, announced the arrests. The identities of the arrested men were publicly disclosed. Each of them was charged with solicitation and possession of criminal tools. In a news release, Attorney General Dave Yost said the operation took place in one day with officers acting undercover on the internet to lure the alleged criminals.

The Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office has collaborated with local law enforcement agencies within the county, including the Cortland Police Department and area task forces, on other large scale operations as well. For example, in July 2019 the Ohio Attorney General and Cuyahoga County Prosecutor announced stings in northeast Ohio carried out during MLB All-Star Week. Investigators called the efforts “Operation Triple Play” and “Operation Home Run.” At least 49 adults went to court on charges of soliciting prostitution and other offenses including felony charges of attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, importuning, possessing criminal tools, and attempting corruption with drugs. These and other offenses occurred when offenders chatted online with officers posing as teens and arranged to purchase sex. Undercover agents from the Cuyahoga County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force participated in the operations, with the arrests targeting human trafficking around local hotels. Those arrested for trying to purchase sex with children ranged in age from their 20s to their 60s. The AG’s Office posted a news release that included the identities of all 49 people arrested. Across both operations, participating law enforcement agencies included: The Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission, Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force (Columbus Division of Police, Ohio Investigative Unit), Mahoning County Human Trafficking Task Force (Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification & Investigation), Cuyahoga Regional Human Trafficking Task Force (Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, Independence Police Department), the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the Office of Cuyahoga County Prosecutor, Newburgh Heights Police Department, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cleveland Police, U.S. Secret Services, Austintown Township Police Department, Solon Police Department, Streetsboro Police Department, Cortland Police Department, and the Kent Police Department.

Some arrests of sex buyers are for crimes committed against real victims, rather than that through stings using police decoys. For example, in June 2020, two men from Trumbull County were indicted by a Trumbull County Grand Jury and charged with compelling prostitution. The two charges of compelling prostitution were for crimes that allegedly happened in March 2017. One defendant was also charged with illegal use of a minor in nudity-oriented material or performance. According to the indictment, both men paid a minor to engage in sex for hire. In September 2021, a former Southington teacher and athletic director pleaded guilty to sex charges involving a former student, including pleading guilty to four counts of sexual battery and one count of compelling prostitution. He was indicted by a Trumbull County grand jury in May 2021 following an investigation by the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office. He was accused of engaging in a sexual relationship with a student 15 years previously. Prosecutors said he gave the student money and gifts in return for sex acts, and that the conduct occurred over several years.

In September 2022, a Girard man was indicted by a Trumbull County grand jury on 10 counts of sex offenses against two boys to whom he was ‘giving’ gifts in exchange for sexually exploiting them. The man was charged with three counts of rape that each carry potential life sentences; four counts unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, two counts compelling prostitution and one count gross sexual imposition. Police said the offenses were reported by a parent in late July 2022,  and had been happening over the prior two years. The alleged gifts included gift cards and other items.

Key Partners

  • Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office
  • Trumbull County jail
  • Cortland Police Department
  • Warren Police Department
  • Youngstown Police Department
  • Cuyahoga County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force
  • Cuyahoga Regional Human Trafficking Task Force (Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, Independence Police Department)
  • Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force
  • Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation

Key Sources

Street-Level and Web-Based Reverse Stings, Disclosure of Identities:

Arrest of Sex Buyers, Identity Disclosure:

Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

State Ohio
Type County
Population 201335
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