The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that the Imagine Foundation, based in Cleveland, tracked hot spots for commercial sex along the interstates in a three-month investigation into locations of adult services advertised on a classified ads website and was to release its report Friday.
The Enquirer obtained an advance copy of the report.
"This is real," foundation Executive Director Jesse Bach said. "There are women and girls who are being bought and sold for sex in the Cincinnati area. The average person needs to take responsibility for what they might see. To use a sports adage, the average citizen has to be willing to say, 'Not in our house.'"
Imagine Foundation researchers found 2,965 advertisements for commercial sex within the region from June 1 through Aug. 31 listed on the website, representing 602 phone numbers from 104 area codes, the Enquirer said.
Researchers found "northern Kentucky" had the greatest frequency, listed 226 times, or 7.6 percent.
Plotted on a map, the highest concentration areas tracked interstate highways.
"It seems that the interstate does hold a role in the facilitation of commercial sex and sex trafficking," the study said. "This may be due to the observation that there are often numerous hotels and motels located within close proximity of these areas and the potential to quickly move unwilling victims across city or state lines via the highway system."
Bach said the region must pay more attention to the customer seeking to buy sex from a person being trafficked.
He told the Enquirer social groups, faith-based organizations and individuals can take a more active role in combating sex trafficking.
"We see this all the time," Bach said. "There are cars in and out of a house all the time and nobody bothers to report it."
On Thursday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich's office began a statewide human trafficking awareness campaign.