The U.S. Marshals Service has rescued 45 missing children in Ohio as a part of operation “Autumn Hope” during the month of October.
The U.S. Marshals Service noted in a press release that the operation “was a multi-agency enforcement operation focused on human trafficking and the location and recovery of missing and exploited children.”
In addition to the 45 missing children who were rescued, 179 arrests were made by the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force.
Twenty additional children were found by the request of law enforcement to “ensure the child’s well-being.”
“My thanks to all personnel who have stepped up for this operation,” Peter C. Tobin, U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Ohio, said in a statement.
“These are the same personnel who hunt down violent fugitives every day. I’m incredibly proud of them and pleased that they were able to apply those same skills to finding missing children. I know Operation Autumn Hope has made a difference in a lot of young lives.”
While the operation was ongoing, the Lancaster Police Department asked for help in finding a 14-year-old girl who was reported missing during the night. Within six hours, she was recovered in Columbus by the U.S. Marshals.
According to Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office, the operation had four priorities:
- “Rescuing victims of human trafficking and referring them to social services.”
- “Recovering missing and exploited children.”
- “Apprehending those seeking to have sex with a minor.”
- “Arresting male johns seeking to buy sex.”
“These vulnerable members of our population usually slip through the cracks,” said Sergeant Dana Hess, director of the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force.
“This operation highlighted the vast number of potential victims and allowed law enforcement the opportunity to make contact and link them to services.”
The press release from the U.S. Marshals Service stated that the service has recovered more than 2,000 missing children since 2005. And since 2015, the Marshals Service has “recovered missing children in 75% of the cases it has received. And of those recovered, 72% were recovered within seven days.”
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