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14 charged in sex-trafficking operation

Stings takes place over three days in Mahoning Valley

YOUNGSTOWN — The Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force and Sheriff Jerry Greene arrested 14 men in Mahoning County over three days as the local part of a statewide effort to arrest those attempting to have sex with minors.

CLICK HERE for mug shots of the 14 arrested

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost named it Operation Autumn Hope. Yost said in a news release the statewide effort involved more than 50 law enforcement agencies and others last week in an effort to “break the cycle that fuels sex trafficking.”

“This is the fourth time we have done it locally,” Greene said of a crackdown on sex trafficking.

In addition to the sheriff’s office, agencies involved locally are the The Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, Austintown Police Department, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Ohio Investigative Unit, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Boardman Police Department, Youngstown Police Department, Mahoning County Prosecutor’s office, Ohio Organized Crime Investigative Commission, Mahoning County Adult Parole Authority and the Cortland Police Deparment.

These men were arrested locally and arraigned Friday in Canfield Area Court. No pleas were entered during their hearing:

• Bashar Abuzant, 30, Daukt Avenue, attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, importuning / soliciting an adolescent and possessing criminal tools, posted bond;

• Jeffrey Cornelius, 33, Black Oak Lane, attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, importuning / soliciting an adolescent and attempted possessing criminal tools, posted bond;

• John Harmocy, 37, Ohltown McDonald Road, Mineral Ridge, attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, importuning / soliciting an adolescent and possessing criminal tools;

• Youssef Jabaly, 27, of Sylvania, attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, importuning / soliciting an adolescent and possessing criminal tools, he posted bond;

• John Kukura, 37, Brookfield Avenue, Boardman, attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, importuning / soliciting an adolescent and possessing criminal tools, he posted bond;

• Sam Lay, 31, Rainier Avenue, Boardman, attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, importuning / soliciting an adolescent and possessing criminal tools, posted bond;

• Donald Lee, 44, Akron, attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, importuning / soliciting an adolescent and possessing criminal tools;

• Nathan Lucas, 34, Madison Street, Hermitage, Pa., an unspecified high-level felony and possessing criminal tools;

• Eric Metansignh, aka Eric Jones, Hudson Avenue, attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, importuning / soliciting an adolescent and possessing criminal tools, bond posted;

• Jarold Mills, 33, Terrace North Avenue, New Castle, Pa., displaying matter harmful to juveniles, importuning / soliciting an adolescent and possessing criminal tools, bond posted;

• Dwayne Sellers Jr., 29, West Warren Avenue, attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, importuning / soliciting an adolescent and possessing criminal tools, bond posted;

• Apostolos Sisalouis, 40, Gordon Avenue, Campbell, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, importuning / soliciting an adolescent and possessing criminal tools, bond posted;

• Jason Walker, 39, East Ninth Street, Salem, attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, importuning / soliciting an adolescent and possessing criminal tools;

• Matthew Zanni, 20, Walnut Grove Circle, Struthers, attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, importuning / soliciting an adolescent and possessing criminal tools.

Such operations involve undercover officers posing as boys and girls ages 12 to 15. After the suspects arrange to have sex by chatting with what they believe are children but are actually officers, they drive to meet the “children” for sex. They then are arrested.

In addition to making arrests, other goals of the operation are to rescue victims of human trafficking and refer them to social services and recover missing and exploited children.

“The success of Operation Autumn Hope is measured not only in the number of arrests but in the lives that were rescued from this evil,” Yost said. “Every agency on this team looks for the day when no person is bought and sold in Ohio. Don’t buy sex in Ohio.”

During the operation, the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, Columbus PACT Unit and the Cuyahoga County Human Trafficking Task Force rescued 109 human trafficking victims and referred them to social services.

Across southern Ohio, 76 missing and exploited children cases were cleared, including 45 by physical recovery by the U.S. Marshal’s Service, Yost stated.

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