Operation ‘Autumn Hope’ Finds 45 Missing Children in Ohio

Operation ‘Autumn Hope’ Finds 45 Missing Children in Ohio

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The U.S. Marshals continue their nationwide effort to locate missing children, this time in Ohio. Operation “Autumn Hope” located 45 missing kids. The Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force also made 177 arrests in conjunction with the operation.

Ohio Attorney General Praises Success of Operation

Marshals worked with local and state authorities to coordinate the sweep. They followed up on tips about missing and exploited children, prioritizing those who flagged as being in the most urgent danger.

According to Ohio Attorney General David Yost, the operation’s goals were:

  • 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

Law enforcement arrested 157 men charged with solicitation of a minor, sending a clear message to anyone trafficking children in Ohio.

Yost shared some of the “wins” of the operation in a press conference on October 26. “Among those missing included a 15-year-old girl missing from Cleveland whose recovery linked her and other possible victims to an individual in Columbus suspected of human trafficking,” he told journalists.

The Attorney General said that the operation also located “a 15-year-old male with two warrants who is a suspect in multiple shootings and a homicide; and a 14-year-old girl who was reported missing by the Lancaster Police Department who was recovered in Columbus within six hours of being reported missing.”

Marshals Bring Home Missing Children

During Operation “Autumn Hope,” Marshals closed 76 missing child cases and brought home 45 children.

In these operations, many of the children are older teen runaways who simply need to be located and their safety confirmed. These minors may have run away from foster care situations. Others might have gotten involved in gangs or prostitution. It’s not always a happy ending for these children–something that may not make it into the press releases.

However, the most important thing is that traffickers and those who would exploit children are gotten off the streets. “Autumn Hope” is the largest operation of its kind in Ohio’s history. Over 50 agencies worked together to pull off the arrests and rescues. Some of those arrests include suspects found with drugs or weapons on site, as well as those picked up for parole violations.

“My thanks to all personnel who have stepped up for this operation,” said Peter C. Tobin, U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Ohio. “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.”