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NW Ohio's underage prostitution problem

A prostitution bust put hundreds of pimps and johns behind bars and rescued dozens of underage prostitutes.

But it left NBC24 with a lot of questions including why Northwest Ohio seems like such a hotbed for this type of crime.

Underage prostitution, parents pimping out their children: these shocking crimes are happening in your community.

"We see it here in Toledo and other urban areas. It runs across all kinds of different socioeconomic stratus and all different types of people are involved in it," said FBI Special Agent Dave Dustin.

Last week, law enforcement raided two farms in Fulton County, one in Delta the other in Fayette.

They arrested four men on charges of having sexual contact with minors, one with a related crime and a sixth with serving as a pimp for the kids.

Dustin says arrest numbers are high in Northwest Ohio for crimes like this in part because of good law enforcement and in part because of good recruitment.

"We're seeing young girls and boys but mostly girls recruited here in Toledo and they're turning up all over the country basically involved in prostitution activities," said Dustin.

A Fulton County Sheriff's undercover officer told us without a tip from an observant community member, these recent busts would not have happened.

"People really don't pay attention to that til' something raises an eyebrow," said the officer who asked us to keep her identity a secret.

She says even the farm owners had no idea this was going on, though the workers were regular customers.

"The migrant were getting paid on a Monday and that's when they got to go over there to prostitute," said the officer.

But the real tragedy in this story are the nameless victims. Kids as young as 10 allegedly being groomed for the sordid business.

"Taking them along on dates or just having them around the activity so they become comfortable with it," said Dustin.

"They get beaten, they get burned, they get choked, it's just awful what these girls go through and that's why I'm thankful for anyone in the community calling us to advise us, hey, there's something going on, check it out," said the undercover officer.

The two Lucas County kids rescued from the bust are now in protective care.

Their mother, who we are told was pimping them out, has been arrested.

The man arrested in Fayette will go to court for a preliminary hearing Wednesday.

The other suspects will face a judge Thursday.

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