Eight men were charged after what investigators are calling an undercover human trafficking sting operation.
The following suspects were taken into custody on Thursday on solicitation and possession of criminal tools charges:
— Thomas Biroschak, Jr., 29, of Canfield
— Patrick Cassidy, 52, of Hubbard
— Joseph Smith, 39, of Niles
— Brian Stewart, 37, of Kinsman
— Francis Cerech, 25, of Campbell
— Terrance Flanagan, 51, of Niles
— Louis Stirk, 47, of Youngstown
— Brian Evans III, 47, of Youngstown
Evans also faces felony drug possession charges.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and Liberty Township Police Chief Toby Meloro announced the arrests on Friday.
Their departments, along with the Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force, conducted the undercover investigation, targeting suspected human trafficking predators.
In past operations, undercover officers begin online conversations with suspects who agree to meet them for sex for hire. Police did not release information on this investigation.
Liberty Police Chief Toby Meloro did say that investigators would continue to hold those buying and selling sex accountable.
“The Liberty Police Department will continue to have an online presence to ensure the safety of children and adults alike and deter predators from committing these acts,” he said.
This is the second undercover sting operation in less than a year in the Youngstown area. The task force also arrested eight men on April 18, 2018, in Warren.