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Investigating human trafficking in Southeast Ohio

Published: Dec. 15, 2021 at 6:05 PM EST
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MARIETTA, Ohio (WTAP) - The Ohio Attorney General’s office says a search warrant raid recently conducted in West Chester, Ohio resulted in arrests and charges of human trafficking.

That raid took place in a massage parlor, but a member of the local task force serving southeast Ohio says motels and other locations can be scenes for human sex trafficking.

While it would not discuss active cases, the task force is currently investigating several cases locally.

They usually involve the exchange of money, with the purchase of drugs the most common use for that money.

”Human trafficking may involve prostitution rings, people working out of hotels,” said Det. Sgt. Eric Augenstein, who works in the Washington County Sheriff’s office for the regional human trafficking task force. “We also see and run down leads on what’s called familial trafficking, where you get a parent who’s trading off a child for drugs, or something like that.”

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost explains human trafficking by saying, “This isn’t just commercial sex. It’s a victim under the control of another who is forced into sex work. The difference in human trafficking, simply put, is two versus three people: When money transfers to a third party and a victim is forced to engage in any kind of sex work for fear of the repercussions, that is human trafficking – and it is illegal.”

Sgt. Augenstein says human trafficking is likely the second most lucrative form of criminal trafficking, except for drug trafficking.

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