BEAVERCREEK, Ohio (WDTN) - An online meeting led to a face-to-face encounter inside room 124, at a motel on the Fairborn-Beavercreek line. The catch is, the woman was an undercover deputy and the man was under arrest for soliciting prostitution. However, he is not the bad guy police are really after.
Major Eric Spicer, with the Greene County Sheriff's Office, organized the sting after noticing a spike in online sex solicitation in the Miami Valley.
Websites like "backpage.com" advertise women and their sexual services, but investigators said there is more than meets the eye.
"It is the human trafficking element that we hope to have an effect on," said Spicer.
Spicer said in many cases the women advertised are not prostitutes, they are sex slaves.
"They might be here against their will. They're trying to get out of a lifestyle that they can't, that they are just really trapped in," he added. "It's almost a modern way of an indentured servitude if you will."
2 NEWS did some research and found the Miami Valley's unique location makes it the perfect target for sex trafficking.
"We do see it in hotels that might service the Wright-Patt or Wright State area," said Spicer. "That's our largest concentration. In our county it's along the (Interstate) 675 corridor and certainly that's where you will find many advertising."
Tony Talbott is co-founder of Abolition Ohio, the Miami Valley's anti-human trafficking group says he is not surprised to see the illegal activity happening near a highway.
"It's easy to get someone out of the state within an hour from here," said Talbott.
Easy access and what some might call, an accepting culture.
Talbott said Ohio is in the top 5 in the country for most strip clubs.
2 NEWS decided to dig a little deeper and found that within a 15 minute drive of downtown Dayton, there are at least seven strip clubs.
"It all comes together and potentially fuels the demand for crimes like this," said Talbott. He added the only way to curtail sex crimes, is to make it more risky for the men involved.
That is what happened in Greene County and Spicer said he hopes the recent arrests send a strong message to the community.
"Our interest is really to help those that are the most vulnerable, the victims of human trafficking" said Spicer. "If we can have an impact on that, then we will be very happy."
Ohio is getting tougher on human traffickers. Last summer state lawmakers passed the Safe Harbor Act which makes human trafficking a stand alone felony. To date, two people have been prosecuted under the new law. One each in Wood and Knox counties.
Indicators a child may be part of human trafficking
- Scripted answers to routine questions
- Inconsistencies in story.
- Branding or tattoos, especially that reflect ownership or money.
- Bruising, with varied stages of healing with black, purple, blue, yellow shades.
- Cigarette burns, rope burns, scars, cuts or other physical abuse.
- Coming on to several men.
- Appears helpless, shamed, nervous someone is watching them.
- Sexually transmitted diseases.
- Inability or fear to make eye contact.
- Chronic runaway; homeless youth.
- Dating much older, abusive or controlling man.
- Not attending school or has numerous school absences.
- Sudden change in attire, possessions, behavior, for example: obtaining an unexplainable new cell phone or outfits.
- Travels to other cities frequently.
- Uses terms common to the commercial sex industry.
- Friends with older females.
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