WARREN — An undercover operation aimed at reducing demand for sex trafficking has led to the arrests of eight men including one suspect who investigators believe was allegedly attempting to recruit an undercover officer into the sex trade, according to Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Warren Police Chief Eric Merkel.
The suspects were taken into custody Wednesday, April 18 as part of an investigation by the Warren Police Department and Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force, which is part of Ohio Attorney General DeWine’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission.
The eight suspects were arrested after investigators said the men responded to online advertisements placed by law enforcement. The suspects allegedly exchanged messages with an undercover officer and arrived at a location in Warren expecting a sexual encounter for-hire with an adult female.
“This investigation shows that the demand for sex trafficking is still being fueled by people looking to purchase sex through online sites,” said Attorney General DeWine. “My office and our partners in law enforcement will continue to aggressively monitor websites and applications where sex is being marketed and intend to hold those buying and selling sex — and the websites that host sex-trafficking ads — accountable.”
“Warren Police will continue its online presence to investigate those who come into the City and contemplate similar bad acts as those arrested in this recent sting,” said Warren Police Chief Eric Merkel. “We will continue to partner with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force to deter these types of individuals from committing their crimes in Warren.”
Lamont Davis, 20, of Warren, was arrested on felony charges of promoting prostitution (F4) and possession of criminal tools (F5) after investigators said he made statements to an undercover officer allegedly in an attempt to recruit the officer to work with him in the sex trade.
Joseph Tennant, 44, of Youngstown, was charged with promoting prostitution (F4), possession of criminal tools (F5), and solicitation (M3) after he allegedly attempted to purchase sex for himself and for a friend.
The following six suspects were arrested on charges of possession of criminal tools and/or solicitation:
• Dain Bancroft, 55, of Mineral Ridge, solicitation (M3), possession of criminal tools (M1)
• Patrick Cassidy, 54, of Hubbard, solicitation (M3), possession of criminal tools (M1)
• Jay Barbe, 55, of West Farmington, solicitation (M3)
• Phillip Salus, 50, Salineville, solicitation (M3), possession of criminal tools, (M1)
• Donald Lingenfelter, 48, of Sharon, Pennsylvania, solicitation (M3), possession of criminal tools (M1)
• Bryan Calai, 35, of Warren, solicitation (M3), possession of criminal tools (M1)
The Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force includes investigators from the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio Attorney General DeWine’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation Crimes Against Children Unit, Warren Police Department, Austintown Police Department, New Middletown Police Department, Ohio Adult Parole Authority, and Ohio State Highway Patrol. Authorities with the Warren Law Director’s Office, Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office, Howland Police Department, and Ohio Investigative Unit assisted with the investigation.
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