More than 50 arrested on solicitation charges after sting in Cook, Lake counties

Updated 2/6/2019 6:21 PM

More than 50 Chicago-area residents are facing solicitation charges stemming from a nationwide sex buyer sting that netted nearly 400 arrests in 14 states, police announced Wednesday.

Authorities said 38 people were arrested in Cook County and 14 in Lake County during the 17th annual National Johns Suppression Initiative.

The sting ran from Jan. 13 through Feb. 3 and involved two dozen law enforcement agencies who used decoy ads on more than a dozen trafficking-

related websites.

Those ads led to artificial intelligence (AI) bots to deter johns and, in many cases, to police officers who made an arrest, according to the Cook County sheriff's office.

Among the arrests nationally were 21 people charged with soliciting a minor, and 23 facing charges related to trafficking. Last week's Polar Vortex didn't slow the demand, as 42 arrests came during the record cold snap, authorities said.

Over the past eight years, authorities said, the nationwide effort led to the arrests of more than 9,000 "johns" and sex traffickers.

"There is no doubt a correlation between 'Johns' and women being sex trafficked," Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg said. "Sex traffickers take women and juveniles to areas where purchased sexual acts are in high-demand, and northeastern Illinois is no exception."

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