(WYTV) – Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost stopped by the 33 News studio to talk about several topics on Thursday, including sting operations.
As a member of the state’s Human Trafficking Task Force, the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office took part in “Operation Homerun” and “Operation Triple Play.” These operations were part of the arrest of over two dozen men during the MLB All-Star festivities in Cleveland last week.
“Here’s a billboard for sexual predators: Don’t buy sex in Ohio,” Yost said. “There’s no safe haven for these crimes in our state, and my office and local law enforcement partners are committed to keeping it that way.”
According to Yost, several of Mahoning County’s tactics were adopted as part of the sting, and the office supplied drone coverage of the event.
“Sheriff Green has been a pioneer in deploying a task force and the tactics that he’s developed, and you know other places have adopted his tactics. Some of these guys were trying to buy sex with children. It’s very disquieting,” Yost said.
Yost said his office carried out the prostitution sting targeting offenders to make a dent in the human trafficking market.
In all, 49 men were arrested in the stings. Operation Homerun arrested 21 people and Operation Triple Play arrested 28 people, including Anthony Gentry, 29, of Youngstown, and Steven Prest, 36, of Youngstown.
“Online predators are a hidden threat to children throughout this community. The success of this operation should serve as a stern reminder to perpetrators – if you attempt to exploit children online, we will catch you,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley said. “This operation would not have been possible without the teamwork of the numerous law enforcement agencies involved.”
Officials stress that parents be cautious of who their kids are talking to online. They said it is important to look out for changes in behavior in their children.