Around 2008, he was helping investigate a chain of Asian massage parlors offering sex services in Dearborn and Floyd counties, Richmond and northern Kentucky. Sutton recalled, “One was trying to get open in Batesville in Cross County Plaza. It was tied to the other spas. The (local police) chief at that time went over and flat-out told them they weren’t going to be opening up.”
During the long-term investigation, officers interviewed prostitution clients leaving different premises. They ranged from a judge and Cincinnati police officers to Ripley County residents, according to Sutton.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement and translators helped when the prostitutes were questioned. Sutton felt this was a human trafficking case because the women, who were in the U.S. illegally, mostly from South Korea, couldn’t leave. “They were staying there 24 hours a day.”
Multiple raids were conducted at once. “We probably arrested over 40-some girls that day,” but not for sex trafficking. However, the Cincinnati female mastermind, local men who applied for the business licenses and the prostitutes themselves were charged with racketeering, corrupt business influence, promoting prostitution, money laundering and theft, because they weren’t paying sales taxes. “A lot of them were taken by ICE” and deported.
The foundation director wanted area residents to realize sex trafficking “is a demand-driven situation. While most everyone just thinks of the trafficker and the victim, the situation only happens because there are customers (primarily men) who want to pay for commercial sex, sometimes with children. Your readers should work to reduce demand which, in time, would eliminate supply. Teach men that women and children are not objects to be bought and sold.”
Grills predicted the crime could happen here in the future. “It could be 10 weeks, 10 months or 10 years ... the I-74 corridor creates a lot of our problems” as persons travel between Chicago and Cincinnati. The ISP officer agreed, “It wouldn’t be out of the question. This type of crime often involves illegal immigrants and runaway juveniles. Therefore, it is hard to detect. Because of their illegal status, victims are usually afraid to come forward for fear of arrest and deportation. Runaways rarely come forward either.”