YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Two Butler County men were among more than a dozen arrest late last week by the Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force, which is part of the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission and the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene announced Friday that an undercover operation targeting predators seeking to sexually exploit children has led to the arrests of 16 men - including David Kent, 24, of Cranberry Township, and Steven Sutton, 44, of Prospect.
According to a press release issued by Yost, the arrests were part of the second undercover sting operation this year in the Youngstown area. An earlier operation in March netted eight men.
"This trap will be laid time and time again until the message reverberates – don't buy sex in Ohio," Yost said. "Task forces are a force multiplier and their success is evident in the number of criminals taken off the street."
Both men face felony charges, including importuning, attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and possession of criminal tools
The Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission supports law enforcement agencies by coordinating task forces to investigate organized crime that crosses city, township and county borders. Special agents from the Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation also participated in the task force's operation.
David Frattare, Commander of the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, said the investigation should serve as a reminder that offenders go to great lengths to gain access to children by exploiting popular social media networks and mobile applications.
"We are very pleased with the outcome of the operation. This task force is not going to give up or let up on these types of crimes," said Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene. "If you are someone using the internet to exploit underage children, we want you to know you may be talking to us."
The men are due back in court Tuesday.