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Published: Tuesday, 2/24/2009

Weekend prostitution sweep nets 19 in NW Ohio

Area law enforcement agents arrested 18 people accused of prostitution and an alleged pimp over the weekend in northwest Ohio, including Toledo and Lima, authorities said.

Although children have been rescued in similar operations in the past, this time all of the arrested were adults, according to the FBI.

The effort was part of Operation Cross Country III, which was conducted in 29 cities across the country. It rescued more than 45 teenagers suspected of prostitution, some as young as 13, the FBI said.

The weekend roundup was in conjunction with a broader federal program launched in 2003 to crack down on child exploitation.

In January, a Toledo man who helped operate a prostitution and money laundering ring that reached at least 15 states was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison.

A federal inquiry into a child prostitution ring in Harrisburg, Pa., found that nine girls from the Toledo area had been sold as sex slaves as part of the ring.

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland signed into law last month a bill that increases sentences for crimes such as kidnapping that aid human trafficking. It also mandates jail time for convictions for promoting prostitution, using a minor in pornography, and endangering children.

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