Law Enforcement Smashes Human Trafficking Ring, Rescues 45 Missing Children

A law enforcement task force just scored a major victory in the fight against human trafficking. A team made up of agents from multiple agencies made a series of arrests in Ohio and rescued 45 children who were missing. 

On Monday, the U.S. Marshals Service issued a press release announcing that operation “Autumn Hope” had successfully recovered 45 children and made a 179 arrests. 

From the press release:

“During the month of October, the U.S. Marshals Service Offices in Southern Ohio and Southern West Virginia, in conjunction with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force participated in operation ‘Autumn Hope.’ Operation Autumn Hope was a multi-agency enforcement operation focused on human trafficking and the location and recovery of missing and exploited children. During the operation 45 missing children were recovered by the U.S. Marshals and 179 arrests were made by the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force. In addition, 20 children were located per the request of law enforcement to ensure the child’s well-being. The operation was supported by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), and Ohio state and local agencies.”

The press release continued, giving details on the suspects that were apprehended and the rescued children:

“During one of the missing child recoveries, a loaded gun was recovered. The 15-year old male juvenile had two warrants and is suspected in multiple shootings and a homicide.

Another case involved a high-risk 15-year old girl who was missing from Cleveland. Information developed from that recovery linked her and other possible victims to an individual in Columbus suspected of human trafficking.

An additional recovery of two juveniles occurred when the USMS Southern Ohio task force forwarded information to Marshals in West Virginia. A recovery of the missing juveniles occurred on a traffic stop after the W.V. State Patrol was informed to be on the lookout for the adult male and the vehicle he was driving. The adult male was charged with concealment/removal of a minor child in Jackson County, WV.”

Peter C. Tobin, U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Ohio praised the individuals who participated in the effort. “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,” he said.

The U.S. Marshals have rescued children in 75 percent of the cases it received. Two-thirds of these were found within a week. 

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost issued a press release explaining that the operation involved more than 50 law enforcement agencies and other groups helping to stop sex trafficking in the state. According to the statement, the operation had four objectives: saving human trafficking victims, recovering missing children, arrested people seeking to have sex with minor children, and individuals looking to buy sex with children. 

Human trafficking has grown into a serious problem over the past few years. It has grown into a billion-dollar industry worldwide and many countries are struggling to crack down on the criminal enterprise. In the U.S. law enforcement continues to develop new methods aimed at apprehending people who participate in these activities, and stories like this show that at least some of these methods could be working. 


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