Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Warren Police Chief Eric Merkel announced that an undercover operation aimed at reducing demand for sex trafficking has led to the arrests of 10 men.
“Undercover operations like this are important to shed light on the continued demand in the sex trade,” said Attorney General Mike DeWine. “We want would-be buyers of sex to remember that they are never sure who they are speaking to online.”
“This is not a victimless crime,” said Chief Merkel. “We want the public to know that our department has an online presence and access to these websites used to purchase sex.”
The arrests took place yesterday as part of an undercover investigation conducted by the Warren Police Department, Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation Crimes Against Children Unit, Austintown Police Department, Adult Parole Authority, Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office, and Ohio State Highway Patrol.
“This operation was just one example of our ongoing efforts to work with various agencies to combat human trafficking in Warren,” said City Law Director Greg Hicks.
“We’re thankful to be able to have partnerships with the Attorney General’s Office and local law enforcement to combat these types of crimes which also contribute to the ongoing opioid epidemic,” said Director of Public Safety and Service Enzo Cantalamessa.
The following 10 suspects were arrested after investigators said the suspects responded to online advertisements placed by law enforcement. Suspects allegedly exchanged messages with an undercover officer arranging for a sexual encounter for-hire with an adult female. Each suspect was arrested on a charge of solicitation after voluntarily arriving for the meetings in Warren.
Robert Rohrbaugh, 44, Canfield
Brian Glunt, 46, Warren
Cean Nelson, 38, Akron
Sergio Galazia, 29, Lowellville
Brian Kerr, 45, Cadiz
Lawrence Pasquarello, 35, Hubbard
Michael Morton, 39, Niles
Jason Miodrag, 36, Greenville, Pennsylvania
Todd Lindberg, 52, Youngstown, Pennsylvania
Gerald Rodriguez, 37, Masury
Additional undercover operations are planned in the future.
Ohio Awarded Funding to Improve Outcomes for Youth Victims of Sex and Labor Trafficking
Three Ohio partner agencies will receive funding for efforts
COLUMBUS – The Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS) was recently awarded a total of $949,968 by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) to combat human trafficking.
The Improving Outcomes for Child and Youth Victims of Human Trafficking grant is a three-year project that addresses three over-arching objectives:
1. Develop, enhance and coordinate programs and activities geared toward improving outcomes for child and youth victims of sex and labor trafficking;
2. Develop and implement a jurisdiction-wide strategy to address the state’s greatest challenges in responding to child and youth trafficking; and
3. Enhance or develop policies, procedures or protocols to ensure that child and youth victims of human trafficking are not penalized for crimes committed as a result of being trafficked, particularly those related to prostitution.
Through strategic trainings and technical assistance, Ohio’s specific goals are to increase the expertise of child welfare agencies to identify and refer potential victims for services, reduce barriers to services for trafficked youth by promoting and implementing screening protocols for identifying and referring victims, implement screening processes for identifying potential minor victims of trafficking within county juvenile courts, and increase implementation of the Safe Harbor legal statute for minor victims of human trafficking.
OCJS serves as the program director and fiscal monitoring agent for the grant and will provide sub-awards to three partner agencies: the Ohio Department of Youth Services; the Public Children Services Association of Ohio; and the Ohio Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers.
A large part of OCJS’ first year of implementation of the grant is strategy building and developing the accompanying performance measures. All trainings, meetings and project activities will be internally tracked to ensure they are on track with OCJS’ Time-Task Plan.
The federal award amount of $949,968 will fund a three-year project period from October 2017 to September 2020.
To learn more about the state’s anti-trafficking efforts, please visit http://humantrafficking.ohio.gov/
OCJS serves as the lead justice planning and assistance agency for the state. Through research, technology and grants, OCJS serves a wide variety of agencies committed to reducing and preventing crime across Ohio.