COLUMBUS, Ohio — A statewide anti-human trafficking operation resulted in the arrest of more than 200 people and the recovery of 10 missing children.
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 seeking to buy sex, including three people from Franklin County who sought to buy sex from a minor. Additionally, 50 people were arrested for offering to sell sex.
Among those arrested was a city councilman, a teacher, a professor, a pilot, municipal employees and a firefighter. Some of the people arrested 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. Marshall’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.”
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.
“We will continue to partner with all of our agencies statewide to address this very serious issue,” said Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant.