[The Hill, Getty Images]
An MLB umpire was among 14 men arrested over the weekend as part of a human trafficking operation targeting individuals looking to buy sex over the internet, officials said.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R) and Liberty Township Police Chief Toby Meloro announced Monday that Brian O’Nora, 57, was one of the men arrested Sunday and charged with soliciting, a third-degree misdemeanor, and possessing criminal tools, a first-degree misdemeanor.
“John stings deter those seeking to purchase sex – reducing the demand for human trafficking – and serve as a reminder that these crimes are more prevalent and closer to home than you may think,” Yost said in a statement. “Hats off to Chief Meloro and the Liberty Township Police Department on their successful operation.”
Yost also shared images of those arrested on Twitter, and the Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force, under the attorney general’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission, also announced the arrests on Facebook.
According to the task force, O’Nora and the 13 other men were arrested upon arriving at a hotel in Northeast Ohio.
“The operation was in response to the increased amount of sex trafficking in the region and served as a warning to the men who are funding these criminal enterprises that prey on the trafficking victims, many of which are children,” the task force wrote in the post.
MLB’s website states that O’Nora joined the league in 1999 and has worked multiple division playoff series, three all-star games, the 2008 American League Championship Series and the 2012 World Series.
The arrests come as the latest in a series of efforts by Yost to crack down on sex trafficking across Ohio.
In October, Yost’s office announced the completion of a campaign titled “Operation Autumn Hope,” that resulted in 179 arrests and 109 victims rescued.
The operation, coordinated by the attorney general’s organized crime division, included more than 50 law enforcement agencies and other organizations across the state.
“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 in a press release at the time. “Every agency on this team looks for the day when no person is bought and sold in Ohio.”
In August, the Ohio “Operation Safety Net” led to the rescue of 25 children aged 13 to 18 in just three weeks after its launch, according to the U.S. Marshals Office.
BY CELINE CASTRONUOVO