COLUMBUS, Ohio (WHDH) — Forty-five missing children were found and 179 people were arrested during a multi-agency enforcement operation focused on human trafficking and exploited children.
The U.S. Marshals Service Offices in Southern Ohio and Southern West Virginia, along with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, participated in operation “Autumn Hope” during the month of October.
In addition to the 45 missing children recovered, 20 children were located per the request of law enforcement to ensure the child’s well-being, according to the Marshals Service.
During one of the missing child recoveries, a loaded gun was reportedly seized. The 15-year-old male had two warrants and is suspected in multiple shootings and a homicide, the Marshals Service said.
In another recovery case, an investigation linked a high-risk 15-year-old female who was missing from Cleveland to a person in Columbus suspected of human trafficking.
Two juveniles were recovered during a traffic stop in West Virginia. The driver, an adult male, was charged with concealment/removal of a minor child in Jackson County, W.V.
A 14-year-old girl who was reported missing in the middle of the night in Lancaster was found six hours later.
Over the past five years, the Marshals Service says they’ve recovered missing children in 75 percent of the cases it has received.
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