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The year-old had been texting back and forth with the girl for a few minutes as he approached the tucked-away hotel. He had no idea, of course, that he was really texting a man — a 6-foot-4, pound Grove City police detective with a full beard and feet the size of skateboards. The detective was working the cellphones and communicating by text with men who were responding to two online for sex that police had just posted. And just after p. Thursday, the man rolled up to the Hilliard hotel and knocked on the door of Room Then the door to the room burst open and two Hilliard police officers rushed in and took the man into custody.

He was charged with soliciting, a third-degree misdemeanor.

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Yost said it is important for the community to understand that buying sex is not a victimless crime. Among those arrested were a registered sex offender on parole and those seeking sex with juveniles. Such operations require a high-level of cooperation and coordination and are not without risk, said Hilliard police Sgt.

Justin Cramer, who was in charge of the activity Wednesday and Thursday at the Hilliard hotel.

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The Dispatch agreed to not name the specific hotel, but the owners were supportive of the police intervention because they want the criminal element gone, too. They know what to watch for and they come into the area looking for cops. Police set up shop in three adjacent rooms at the hotel.

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One was pretty bare, just the suitcase supposedly belonging to the woman and a bag of potato chips as snacks sitting on the dresser beside the TV. But the room was full of hidden cameras and microphones, capturing what would happen there from every angle.

A second room served as home base, where more than a dozen officers texted potential johns, monitored the video feed from the room where the meet-ups would happen, and scanned surveillance cameras from the parking lot and around the neighborhood.

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They communicated with spotters who tried to get a plate as the johns approached so that police would have some idea who they might be dealing with. A third room was set up for processing, where police brought the men in handcuffs once they had been arrested. There, they were photographed, booked and issued a summons to appear in Franklin County Municipal Court on a later date. That first man of the day, who was arrested less than three minutes after he entered the hotel room, seemed shell-shocked to have been caught.

He sat on the folding chair in the room, the money he had paid the woman laid out before him on the bed as a detective photographed it for evidence, and rocked back and forth as he fought back tears. All the effort by law enforcement is worth it, said Columbus police Sgt. Punishing the johns: Columbus Police deputy chief wants harsher consequences.

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The court class focuses on risks and the harm done by the prostitution trade. But Yost said that with this operation, for the first time in Ohio, some of those seeking to pay for sex were charged with engaging in prostitution, a misdemeanor of the first degree.

This charge was created under House Billwhich only became law on Monday. Under the new law, an offender will be required to attend an education or treatment program aimed at preventing a person from inducing, enticing or procuring another to engage in sexual activity for hire.

Hilliard Police Lt. Doug Lightfoot stood in that dingy hotel room Thursday and watched the cameras with his arms folded across his chest and a scowl on his face. He said he thinks Ohio should use some form of public shaming — as some states do — for those arrested. One of his undercover female detectives who spent the afternoon as the decoy had just made the comment that she would later burn the tank top and yoga pants she wore this day.

Dispatch series: "Suffering on Sullivant" highlighted the city's most plagued prostitution corridor. Another man arrested Thursday was 67 and from Mount Gilead. Sitting in the processing room, his belt unfastened and hanging loose off his waist, he seemed unfazed. Facebook Twitter.

Central Ohio law enforcement arrest 93 as johns targeted in human trafficking stings at hotels. Holly Zachariah The Columbus Dispatch.

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