AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Three people were arrested during undercover sex stings in Austintown on Thursday.
The operations were conducted by the Austintown Police Department, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Bureau of Criminal Investigations, Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office and Adult Parole with a focus on combating human trafficking and sex offenses in the township.
Undercover officers texted two numbers they say were advertising sexual services on Backpage.com under the dating section.
One of the women who responded, 26-year-old Jessica Burkhart of Warren, agreed to meet the officer in the parking lot of T/A Travel Center, according to a police report.
Police said when Burkhart met the officer, she was found with a crack pipe and admitted to seeing “johns” routinely to support her heroin and crack addiction. Investigators said she posted over 470 advertisements online using her cell phone number.
She was arrested and charged with soliciting sex, possession of drug paraphernalia and criminal tools.
Also arrested during the sting was 65-year-old Duane Strock and a 27-year-old Megan Wright, of Warren.
Police said an undercover officer met Wright at the Travel Center after responding to a Backpage ad. Upon meeting her, she told investigators that she had been severely harmed by “pimps” and “johns” in the past and had been working as a prostitute to repay a $1,200 debt to a pimp.
Police said the woman was addicted to heroin and was found with 39 syringes and burnt spoons. She was taken to the hospital for injuries that she said were caused by a former pimp and from injecting heroin into infected areas.
She’s charged with possessing criminal tools, possessing drug abuse instruments, soliciting and drug paraphernalia.
Strock, who had driven Wright to the area, was charged with promoting prostitution, according to a police report.
Wright told police that Strock was not her pimp, but she was giving him gas money to give her a ride to the area for prostitution.