U.S. marshals find 45 missing children, survivors of human trafficking, in 'Operation Autumn Hope'
More than 100 survivors of human trafficking were located; nearly 180 arrests were made
The United States Marshals Service has recovered 45 missing children in Ohio and West Virginia," the Ohio Attorney General's Office said Monday.
Attorney General David Yost said the effort – Operation Autumn Hope – is the largest anti-human trafficking effort in state history.
More than 50 agencies were involved in the operation that resulted in the rescue of more than 100 human trafficking survivors and led to 179 arrests. It was unclear as of Tuesday morning when the effort started.
Most of the arrests were made by the Central Ohio Human Trafficking task Force and the Marshal Service, in conjunction with the office of the Ohio Attorney General.
The U.S. Marshals Service Office in Southern West Virginia also recovered two children in Jackson County, one of whom was "listed as the number one priority in the state of Ohio," according to West Virginia Chief Deputy Ross Mellinger.
“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," said Peter Tobin, a U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Ohio.
In September, the U.S. marshals announced that 25 children ages 13 to 18 were recovered over the course of a 20-day mission called "Operation Safety Net" in Ohio.
In August, the service found 39 missing children in Georgia over a two-week period called "Operation Not Forgotten."
The Marshals Service says it has recovered missing children in 75% of the cases it has received in the past five years. The agency says it has recovered more than 2,000 children since 2007.