Valley residents rounded up in statewide crackdown on sex trafficking
More than a dozen men from the Valley are among those arrested in a weeklong statewide human trafficking crackdown called “Operation Buyer’s Remorse,” which sought to arrest those trying to buy sex and to identify survivors of human trafficking.
Led by the state Attorney General’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission, the operation took place from Sept. 25 to Sept. 30 throughout Ohio including in and around Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo, Akron, Youngstown, Marietta and Portsmouth.
The operation led to 160 arrests and was comprised of coordinated “stings” conducted by OOCIC’s eight human trafficking and major crimes task forces. The task forces’ work was amplified by numerous local law enforcement agencies that also conducted anti-human trafficking operations.
Additionally, search warrants were conducted at 11 massage parlors suspected of human trafficking activities as part of ongoing, long-term investigations.
Over the course of the week, 149 “johns” seeking to buy sex were arrested and charged with engaging in prostitution. Additional arrests included two individuals for seeking to have sex with minors and six for promoting prostitution. Others were arrested for illegally possessing narcotics and/or firearms, or because there were outstanding warrants against them.
The Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force arrested Jordan Perez, 35, of Masury, Ohio, on charges of engaging in prostitution and possessing criminal tools. Perez brought a firearm to buy sex – but did not bring any money. He claimed he intended to pay for sexual services via a web app.
Those arrested from the Valley include:
- Robert Ashbaugh, 52, New Castle, PA
- Michael Bender, 41, Warren, OH
- Patsy Bova, 59, Diamond, OH
- Jordan Perez, 35, Masury, OH
- Robert Chaussar, 65, Jamestown, PA
- Deshawn Evans, 26, Austintown, OH
- Ralph Fabrizio, 48, Hubbard, OH
- Kevin Smith, 62, Warren, OH
- Brian Spayde, 42, Youngstown, OH
- Travis Swidzinski, 37, Youngstown, OH
- Jonathan Waguespack, 21, Poland, OH
- Rontrell White, 34, Youngstown, OH
According to Attorney General Dave Yost, those arrested come from all backgrounds, including EMTs, nurses, educators, retirees, former law enforcement officers, self-employed individuals, delivery drivers, and others. The youngest john arrested was 17 and the oldest was 84.
Mahoning Co. Jerry Greene said the numbers arrested in the stings in the Valley were slightly higher than announced, saying that 19 males and four females were arrested.
“Law enforcement across Ohio teamed up in a concerted effort to stem the demand that fuels human trafficking,” Yost said. “The success of this operation is measured not only by the number of arrests but also by the resources offered to survivors of human trafficking and the intelligence gathered that will propel long-term investigations forward.”
Law enforcement officers interviewed 104 survivors of human trafficking, who were provided services from health care and social service organizations.