Columbus, Ohio – October 2, 2023
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost today announced the results of a week long statewide human trafficking crackdown, ‘Operation Buyer’s Remorse,’ which sought to arrest those trying to buy sex and to identify survivors of human trafficking.
Indiana University East professor 44-year-old Ramesh Karki from Richmond, Indiana was among those 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.”
AG Yost’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission (OOCIC), Operation Buyer’s Remorse was a collaborative effort that took place from September 25 to September 30 in every corner of the state, including in and around Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo, Akron, Youngstown, Marietta, and Portsmouth, according to a press release.
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.
Those arrested come from all backgrounds, including an EMT, 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.
Law enforcement officers interviewed 104 survivors of human trafficking, who were provided services from health care and social service organizations.
“Nearly 100 law enforcement agencies and service organizations participated in this operation – I am grateful for each and every partner who dedicated their time and resources, as we all play a key role in the fight against human trafficking,” Yost said. “Our message is simple: Don’t buy sex in Ohio!”
- The H.E.A.L. Human Trafficking Task Force, consisting of the Huron, Erie, Ashland, and Lorain Sheriff’s Offices, along with the Northeast Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, conducted a search warrant on an illicit massage parlor in Lorain County. The search warrant resulted in the seizure of more than $49,000 and furthered an active investigation into criminal activity and potential human trafficking.
- The Columbus Division of Police’s PACT Unit (Police and Community Together) made 62 arrests over five days. The unit arrested Delbert Thomas, 75, of Columbus twice on the same day. After the first arrest, Thomas sought to buy sex in a different area of the city and was arrested a second time. The PACT Unit also arrested Joseph Henry, 47, of Columbus, who is a registered sex offender.
- The Toledo Police Department and U.S. Border Patrol served search warrants on five illicit massage parlors. The search led to the seizure of $25,000 and numerous electronic devices associated with the businesses. Kwi Hood, Ziaojing Yuan, Chunya Jiao, Junjuan Tao, Young Stone, and Xiaoyan Gou are all facing charges of promoting prostitution.
- The Summit Regional Human Trafficking Task Force served four search warrants on illicit massage parlors as part of ongoing investigations. Seven survivors of human trafficking were offered social services.
- The Madison County Sheriff’s Office arrested one individual for felony possession of narcotics.
- The Montgomery County Human Trafficking Task Force conducted a john sting operation and arrested Shawn Ryken, a staff sergeant, and Jason Goins, a major, from the U.S. Air Force, as well as Michael Masterson, an administrator at the University of Dayton, and Ramesh Karki, a professor at Indiana University.
- 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.
- The Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office and Lancaster Police Department arrested Nick Claybourn, 29, of Rushville on charges of engaging in prostitution. Claybourn is a sixth-grade teacher in the Fairfield Union Local School District.
- During their operation, the Southeast Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force had several encounters with individuals that led to felony arrests. Ethan Ross, 22, of Lowell, was arrested on an active warrant for kidnapping, a first-degree felony, and on a felonious assault charge, a second-degree felony. Jamey Lacy, 46, of Zanesville, was arrested and charged with trafficking in drugs in a school zone, a fifth-degree felony, possession of a controlled substance, a fifth-degree felony, and soliciting, a third-degree felony. The task force also executed a search warrant on a suspected massage parlor in Belpre.
- The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and Department of Public Safety offered services to 37 potential victims of human trafficking during two daylong outreach events.
Names of Arrestees
(A lengthy list of arrestees’ names is provided in the original document)