(NewsNation) — A weeklong human trafficking crackdown brought 160 arrests throughout the state of Ohio, including EMTs, nurses, educators, former law enforcement officers, delivery drivers and others.
The initiative, dubbed “Operation Buyer’s Remorse,” took place Sept. 25-30 “in every corner of the state,” Ohio Attorney General David Yost said in a statement.
“It’s not just cops. It’s everyone in the fight trying to help the survivors of human trafficking on the ground, and every one of them is necessary,” Yost said.
The youngest suspect was 17 years old and the oldest was 84 years old.
Yost told NewsNation that the sting “describes” the problem of human trafficking.
“This is not a city, country thing, a rich, poor thing it is everywhere, Yost said. “It’s in the suburbs, it’s down the street, it’s at the Airbnb, it’s at the truck stop. Everywhere that people are is potentially a place where human trafficking is going on.”
In Polk County, Florida, more than 200 people were arrested last week in a similar undercover operation —including 35 people who were living in the country illegally and two alleged traffickers.
“Sometimes we work an entire operation without ID’ing a trafficker because the ladies are scared to death so we think it’s a big, big deal,” said Polk County, Florida Sheriff Grady Judd.
Jennifer Coffindaffer, a former FBI agent and NewsNation law and justice contributor, asserts these operations occur more frequently in order to address what she calls a crisis.
“Now we are seeing the fruits of the labor after COVID-19 being over. These investigations are being brought into fruition,” Coffindaffer said. “I think because of the porous border situation with more vulnerable people who are susceptible to being trafficked, you will see a rise in these cases.”
Coffindaffer said trafficking is becoming more focused and therefore more resources are being offered to alleged victims. During these operations, law enforcement’s initial step is to connect potential survivors with resources and social services.