South East Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force talks progress, goals on Human Trafficking Awarness Day
MARIETTA, Ohio (WTAP) -Tuesday, January 11th is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. A day dedicated to shedding a light on the illegal use of vulnerable people to make a profit through sex work or labor.
Spencer McPeek, Commander of the South East Human Trafficking Task Force says Ohio is not imune to human trafficking. That is why he said Attorney General Dave Yost pushed to have a human trafficking task force in South East Ohio.
McPeek said the South East Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force was created in July. Since then, they have executed 82 search warrants and made 32 arrests for crimes such as human trafficking, rape, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, child porn, and various drug charges.
McPeek said the task force is proactive in going after online predators. McPeak said they have conducted 6 undercover predator stings since July-all have resulted arresting several people trying to have sex with a minor.
“The reason we do these online stings is to one, catch these guys. We’d rather them be talking to us than somebody else’s kid,” McPeek said.
“It also brings awareness to that kind of stuff that goes on in our area. Just the fact that we’ve had 32 felony arrests in just 6 months kind of shows how prevalent it is.”
McPeek said while the task force has been successful so far, he says they have a long way to go in order to illiminate sex trafficking and forced labor in Ohio.
“One of our big goals this year is to get in all the schools in south east Ohio. Lot’s of time kids meet their perpetrator online so we try to get in there and warn them what to look out for,” McPeek said. We’ve had people all the way out in New Jersey come to meet kids.”
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