COLUMBUS, Ohio (NewsNation Now) — A statewide anti-human trafficking operation resulted in the arrest of more than 200 people and the recovery of 10 missing children in Ohio.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost detailed the results of the operation, referred to as “Ohio Knows,” during a briefing with several law enforcement agencies on Monday.
The operation, which spanned one week, led to the arrest of 161 people allegedly seeking to buy sex, including three people from Franklin County who allegedly sought to buy sex from a minor. Additionally, 50 people were arrested on suspicion of offering to sell sex, according to Yost.
This was the largest human trafficking bust in the state’s history, Yost announced.
Among those arrested were a city councilman, a teacher, a professor, a pilot, municipal employees and a firefighter. Some of the people detained also possessed drugs or illegal firearms. Yost did not detail the circumstances of the arrests or where the suspects came from.
Columbus firefighter Andrew Bartnikowski was just one of the arrests made on Sept. 27. He is charged with counts of engaging in prostitution. According to court records, Bartnikowski responded to an online advertisement to pay for sex and engaged in multiple text messages and calls. He was arrested at a hotel by undercover officers posing as prostitutes.
A simultaneous investigation conducted by the U.S. Marshal’s Service resulted in the recovery of 10 missing children. Those children have been offered services, according to an update from the Attorney General’s Office.
“I shake my head and can’t believe those stories,” said Yost. “It happens everywhere.”
Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant said they’re working with the courts, schools, health care facilities and other community partners statewide.
“We will continue to partner with all of our agencies statewide to address this very serious issue,” Bryant said.
The operation enlisted the help of nearly 100 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies across Ohio. According to a release, 51 potential trafficking victims were interviewed and helped as a result.
Columbus City Council passed an ordinance last month aimed at holding offenders accountable while also assisting victims. The anti-human trafficking plan focuses on criminal justice, victim services, technology, education and community collaboration.
NewsNation affiliates WJW and WEHT contributed to this report.
- Andrew Yang’s Forward Party, NFL concussion settlement, and Chicago’s police union vs. their mayor
- Marine officer receives reprimand for Afghanistan criticism
- Meteorite crashes down on sleeping Canadian woman’s bed, missing by inches
- Supreme Court commission talks positively of shorter terms
- Parents believe missing 17-year-old girl was lured out of home by older man