Two successful human trafficking stings during the MLB All-Star weekend netted multiple arrests including several men from Medina County now facing felony charges in connection with attempts to solicit sex from minors.
“Operation Triple Play” resulted in the arrest of 28 men from across Ohio, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael C. O’Malley said Thursday.
The four-day undercover operation led by the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force ran from Saturday, July 6, to Tuesday, July 9. The goal was simple: identify and arrest individuals interested in engaging in sexual activity with persons they believed to be minor children.
Of those arrested two men are from Brunswick — Jacob Hoover, 22, and Carlos Crespo, 29. A third man, Kyle Ferguson, 21, is from Medina.
Online court dockets did not list specific charges related to each man caught up in the sting.
According to a release from O’Malley’s office, those arrested during the undercover operation faced initial charges that include attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, and importuning. Each case is under review for possible charges of possessing criminal tools and attempted corrupting another with drugs.
Each case will go before a Cuyahoga County Grand Jury.
“The success of this operation should serve as a stern reminder to perpetrators — if you attempt to exploit children online, we will catch you,” O’Malley said in a statement.
“This operation would not have been possible without the teamwork of the numerous law enforcement agencies involved.”
The release said the men — as young as 20 and as old as 67 — each engaged in sexually explicit online conversations with undercover task force officers posing as children.
Contact went through popular social media sites and the defendants expressed an interest having sex or sending sexually explicit photos during the online conversations, the release said. When a plan was made to meet up at a vacant house in Cuyahoga County, police met the men. Several defendants were in possession of condoms, personal lubricant, marijuana and drug paraphernalia, the release said.
This is the second operation geared around the festivities that brought hundreds to the Cleveland area for the professional baseball event.
The Attorney General’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission, the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force and the Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force conducted “Operation Homerun,” netting another 21 arrests for individuals soliciting for prostitution.