(NORTH OLMSTED, Ohio) — On the same day that members of the Northeast Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force arrested 10 men on sex charges in North Olmsted, a Lorain County man whom they investigated back in 2021 was sentenced to life in prison, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced.
“Yesterday was a banner day for the task force,” Yost said. “Their commitment to wiping out the scourge of human trafficking is making a difference in the lives of the victims and having a big impact on the region.”
The arrests were part of a one-day operation held in conjunction with the North Olmsted Police Department, Westshore Enforcement Bureau and the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force to identify those providing and purchasing commercial sex.
One of the men taken into custody, Errol Jackson, 35, of Lorain, is a registered Tier III sex offender. He was arrested for promoting prostitution, a fourth-degree felony, and is being held in the Cuyahoga County jail. Additional charges are expected in the case.
“The North Olmsted Police Department will not tolerate this type of activity in our city,” said Chief of Police Bob Wagner.
“We will continue to investigate and prosecute those individuals that come to our city and violate our laws.”
“We greatly appreciate the help from our law enforcement partners and look forward to continuing this relationship in the future.”
Nine additional men were arrested and charged with engaging in prostitution, a first-degree misdemeanor:
Ahmed Aljabri, Cleveland, 41
Sha Chuwan, Erie, Pennsylvania, 32
Dan Keenan, Jr., Westlake, 53
William Minor, Cleveland, 52
Jeffrey Ohl, La Grange, 53
Erwin Palma-Torres, Garrettsville, 30
Jacob Safran, Royal Oak, Michigan, 32
Raymond Schillinger, Akron, 53
Carl Whepley Jr., Perry, 55
Those arrested included a non-profit executive, a middle school teacher and a man who was living in the country illegally.
“An anti-human trafficking operation is a crucial step towards combatting this heinous crime that violates human rights and destroys lives,” said Cuyahoga County Interim Sheriff Joseph S. Greiner.
“Such operations not only help to rescue victims from the clutches of traffickers but also send a strong message to perpetrators that their actions will not be tolerated.”
“We must all unite in the fight against human trafficking and support anti-human trafficking operations in any way we can to eradicate this problem.”
Seven potential human trafficking victims were identified during the North Olmsted operation and were provided resources from multiple agencies who assisted the task force, including the Canopy Child Advocacy Center, Cleveland Rape Crisis Center and the Harriett Tubman Movement.
“This is a great example of what can be accomplished when federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies work in collaboration to dismantle human trafficking operations,” said Special Agent in Charge Jared Murphey of the Detroit office of Homeland Security Investigations.
“This cooperation not only allows us to apprehend the perpetrators but also identify the victims and provide them with services and support.”
Human Trafficker Sentenced to Life in Prison
While yesterday’s operation was occurring, a separate investigation culminated in Lorain County, where a human trafficker was sentenced to life in prison.
Steven Gilbert, 36, of Elyria, was convicted of 31 human trafficking offenses and will be eligible for parole after 172½ to 182½ years in prison.
The Northeast Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force assisted the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office, Elyria Police Department and the Investigative Division of the Lorain County Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the case.
Detectives found that Gilbert ran a human trafficking ring that preyed upon numerous women who were addicted to narcotics. The case was prosecuted by the Lorain County Prosecutor’s Office.
Northeast Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force
The task force is one of six regional law enforcement collaboratives formed under AG Yost’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission directed at combatting human trafficking.
The Northeast Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force is led by the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department and includes the Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Office, Ashtabula Police Department, Cleveland Police Department, Conneaut Police Department, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, East Cleveland Police Department, Geauga County Sheriff’s Office, Lake County Sheriff’s Office, MetroHealth Police Department, North Olmsted Police Department, Ohio Investigative Unit, Homeland Security Investigations, Warrensville Heights Police Department, Westlake Police Department and Willoughby Police Department.