Three arrested in Austintown crackdown on Backpage prostitution - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Three arrested in Austintown crackdown on Backpage prostitution

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AUSTINTOWN TWP., Ohio -

Three more arrests have been made as authorities in Austintown crackdown on prostitution being advertised in the online classified website Backpage.

Austintown Township Police were joined by state troopers, the Mahoning County Sheriff's officers, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Adult Parole Authority conducted a joint operation on Thursday targeting human trafficking and sex offenses.

An undercover officer says when he called a number found in the Backpage “dating” section, a woman offered sex acts for $130.

The officer also says the woman told him to bring condoms before meeting at a truck stop on Seventy-Six Drive in Austintown.

Upon meeting, police immediately arrested a woman identified as Megan Wright, 27, of Warren.

She has been charged with soliciting sex and possessing criminal tools, because police consider cell phones used for purposes of prostitution tools used to commit a crime.

Since police also found a burnt spoon and 39 syringes, Wright was also charged with drug paraphernalia and drug abuse.

Police also arrested the man who dropped her off at her appointment. Duane Strock, 65, of Warren, is charged with promoting prostitution.

Investigators say they found 142 Backpage ads associated with Wright, who admitted to officers that she is addicted to heroin and was working to repay a pimp a $1,200 debt.

She showed officers an infection on her leg that she claims was the result of being burned by a former pimp, as well as heroin injections. Wright was taken to a hospital for evaluation.

Strock was given a summons to appear before a judge.

According to police reports, Wright said that Strock was not her pimp, but she did give him money to pay for gasoline.

Another Backpage ad answered the same day led officers to a woman calling herself “Julie” who was offering a “fun satisfying time” for $60 to $120.

Police say the woman agreed to meet them in the same parking lot on Seventy-Six Drive. Again, the undercover officer says he was told to bring condoms.

The officer arrested the woman in the parking lot, charging Jessica Burkhart, 26, of Austintown, with soliciting sex.

Because she allegedly used a cell phone to set up the meeting and was found with a crack pipe, Burkhart is also charged possessing criminal tools and drug paraphernalia.

Police say Burkhart told them that she's involved in prostitution to support her heroin and crack addiction.

All three suspects are scheduled to be arraigned in Mahoning County Court in Austintown on Monday.

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