Stop human trafficking

Cathy Brownfield

A couple of weeks ago, Operation Buyer’s Remorse stamped “Not in Ohio” on 160 persons across Ohio who were arrested in connection with human trafficking. Law enforcement officers are reiterating that they are committed to helping victims of human trafficking if those persons will just reach out. In this operation, 104 victims were referred to services that can help them.


Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost advised, “You are contributing to trafficking when you are putting money down for sex. Don’t buy sex in Ohio.” A Lake County police lieutenant, Harry Harpster, emphasized, “It’s not a city problem. It’s an everybody problem.”

Human trafficking affects everyone. The mere mention of it strikes fear in a parent’s heart because it can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. We all know what it is. And even the traffickers know it is wrong or they would not hide their activities.

Traffickers use force, fraud, coercion and manipulation through romantic relationships or by making false promises about well-paying jobs, according to the Blue Campaign, a project of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security ( Traffickers keep their victims through fear – of the traffickers themselves and of law enforcement agencies who will help if they just reach out.

Who do traffickers look for as targets? Persons who are already victims of something: They are emotionally or psychologically vulnerable, may be living under economic hardship, or they lack a social safety net. They exploit natural disasters and political unrest to their advantages. The trauma can be so great that victims do not recognize that they are victims or that they need to ask for help.


The U.S. State Department estimates that at any given time in 2021, approximately 27.6 million people were in forced labor with 17.3 million exploited to the private sector, 6.3 million in forced commercial sexual exploitation, and 3.9 million in forced labor imposed by the state. Also estimated in the same report, 49.6 million persons were in “modern slavery,” including forced labor and forced marriage, during the same period.

In 2021, the National Human Trafficking Hotline received 50,123 signals including calls, texts, online chats and tips. In Ohio, there were 11,224 signals including 9,448 calls, 848 SMS reports, 657 online reports, 188 emails received and 85 web chats.

The U.S. Department of Justice reports that victims are found in legal and illegal labor industries, like child care and elder care. The list includes drug trade, massage parlors, nail and hair salons, restaurants, hotels, factories, farms, domestic servitude in a home, exotic dance clubs, online advertising … virtually everywhere. Attorney General Yost advises they include EMTs, nurses, educators, retirees, former law enforcement officers, self-employed individuals, delivery drivers and others.

Everyone is affected by it. Everyone should understand how to identify victims, and what to do when they have identified a victim. Authorities advise that the trafficker not be approached, nor the victim alerted. Law enforcement should investigate.

The National Human Trafficking Hotline can be reached at 1-888-373-7888, text BEFREE or HELP to 233733, or email, Chat also is available at the website.

Family Recovery Center has professional staff who are ready to listen when you have no one else to talk to. The goal is for the health and well-being of all.