Last updated: July 24. 2013 1:39PM - 903 Views

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PDT Staff Writer

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said Thursday four Chillicothe residents who are under investigation by the newly formed Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, have been indicted. Roger Rider and Richard Evans face charges of trafficking in persons, rape, kidnapping and promoting prostitution. Craig Tackett is charged with trafficking in persons, rape, kidnapping and promoting prostitution, while Mara Morrison faces charges of trafficking in persons, kidnapping and promoting prostitution.

“This is the first task force of its kind in Central Ohio,” Attorney General DeWine said. “My office created this unit because human trafficking is happening every day in this area, and we need to be proactive to fight it.”

Members of the task force began investigating the Chillicothe residents when a woman reported to authorities that the suspects brought her to Columbus under false pretenses and forced her to have sex with more than a dozen men over a period of several days.

DeWine said investigators believe there could be at least two more victims.

“These suspects placed advertisements on the Internet offering up the victim as a prostitute and collected money from the men who answered the ads,” DeWine said. “They forced the young woman to be a sex slave, and they will not get away with it.”

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien’s office will prosecute the cases.

The Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force is part of the Attorney General’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission (OOCIC). The unit is primarily made up officers from the Columbus Police Department, along with officers from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), the Powell Police Department, U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

“The Columbus Division of Police is committed to investigating and stopping the trafficking of any human being,” Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs said. “Our participation in this task force is a sign of our deep desire to protect our citizens and to prevent this heinous crime from occurring in our community.”

“Every officer involved in this task force is a top notch investigator devoted to helping the people who are forced not only into the sex trade, but into the labor trade as well,” DeWine said. “We are pleased by the success investigators have had so far and expect more arrests in the future.”

Agents with BCI&I are also working with human trafficking task forces in northwest and northeast Ohio.

DeWine also established a Human Trafficking Commission to work to analyze, research and find solutions for the human trafficking problem. The commission’s research and analysis subcommittee plans to release recent study findings and suggest recommendations on how to prevent domestic sex trafficking next week.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Craig Tackett or Mara Marrison should contact either the Columbus Police Department at 614-645-4545 or BCI&I at 855-BCI-OHIO (855-224-6446).

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at flewis@heartlandpublications.com

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