More than 450 arrested in national sex buyer sting, 84 in Illinois

CHICAGO (WLS) -- More than 450 people were arrested in a national sex buyer sting, including 84 in Illinois, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said Wednesday.

Dart said the 16th National Johns Suppression Initiative (NJSI) lasted from July 25 to Aug. 26 with 24 law enforcement agencies in 12 states, including the county's four largest cities.

At least 473 arrests were made, according to the sheriff, including 10 people charged in relation to attempting to have sex with a minor and six people charged with trafficking-related offenses. Eleven minors were recovered during the operation.

In Illinois, Arlington Heights police made two arrests, the Cook County Sheriff made 73 arrests and the Lake County Gang Taskforce made nine arrests. The Sheriff's Office said the arrests were made mostly from street stings "due to the changing landscape of online sex trafficking."

The Sheriff's Department said the operation also used a bot that was "strategically deployed to measure the level of potential trafficking taking place across several emerging 'escort service' websites" in five cities, including Chicago. Dart said the decoy ads attracted just three inquiries per ad, compared to an average 17 inquiries per decoy ad placed on in the last NJSI in January 2018.
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