Yesterday a human-trafficking ring burst wide open with the arrest of an Ohio man. Authorities arrested Ronald Hellman, 50, on four counts of compelling prostitution of a minor. Investigators believe the case involves more than 80 victims and spans 15 years. Hellman’s arrest was in connection with a previous arrest of Charles Krusak, 77, last month on charges of child pornography. Authorities believe the two parties conspired together in the trafficking ring.
The investigation started last month with a tip from a concerned citizen about Krusak’s involvement with child pornography. Ohio’s Attorney’s General office investigated the tip for more than two weeks. On July 25th, the executed a search warrant on Krusak’s home.
Authorities confiscated material incriminating Krusak in the crime. Authorities found a VHS tape dating back to 2000. Investigators arrested Krusak and charged him with 15 offenses associated with possession and distribution of child pornography.
Krusak’s buddy Hellman got a little bit panicked after his buddies arrest. Through the arrest of Krusak authorities learned of Hellman’s crimes. Apparently, Mr. Hellman targeted drug-addicts and prostitutes. After finding a victim, Hellman delivered the individual to Krusak’s home. Krusak paid Hellman for each of the victims.
Authorities believe that the victims remained in the human-trafficking ring through forced drug dependence. Attornies suggested the men kept victims addicted to drugs. Due to the victim’s addictions, they would do anything requested by the men.
Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office and the Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force is working diligently to identify more than 80 victims that were part of the ring. They told WKBN 27 of Cleveland the victims are both young women and juveniles.
Authorities fear that many of the victims involved are afraid to come forward. They have set up a hotline for victims to notify authorities of their involvement in the ring. Victims are urged to call 330-480-4940.
According to a report done by the Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, Ohio ranks 4th in the nation for human trafficking. Experts involved in the study say several factors play a role in Ohio’s human-trafficking problem. Five major highways connect in Ohio which plays a factor in trafficking. Communities in Ohio have a lot of strip clubs. Also, Ohio has a vast amount of farmland. Many people trafficked into Ohio perform forced labor on farms.
No court date has been released for Ronald Hellman. However, he is currently being held on $100,000 bond in Mahoning County. No word on when Charles Krusak is next due in court. As more victims come forward, I am sure the case will get even more graphic in details.