A massive operation by law enforcement in Ohio called ‘Operation Autumn Hope’ has caused the arrest of 179 people under accusation of human trafficking, and the rescue of 109 victims, 45 of whom were missing children. Among the rescued victims some were as young as 14 or 15 years old. The victims were taken to social services, according to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
Over 50 law enforcement agencies participated in the operation, causing officers to make arrests and rescues in different counties.
In a three-day sting, Columbus police focused on the west side, Linden, Sullivant, and Parsons Avenues searching for victims of human trafficking. Undercover officers worked with uniformed officers who would make the arrests.
One arrest and rescue happened during a traffic stop in nearby West Virginia.
One arrest and rescue was even conducted during a traffic stop in nearby West Virginia. Peter Tobin, U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Ohio was grateful to all the officers, thanked them who helped in with the operation, and gladly said that their actions have made a difference to a lot of lives.
Sgt. Dana Hess, director of the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, said that this operation shows how many victims are out there still waiting to be rescued.
“These vulnerable members of our population usually slip through the cracks. This operation highlighted the vast number of potential victims and allowed law enforcement the opportunity to make contact and link them to services,” Hess said.
This is just one of many such operations that have taken place across the state, and the entire country in recent years to crack down on human traffickers.
Over the past five years, the US Marshal Service (USMS) has rescued missing children in 75% of the cases it has come across. And of those recovered, 72% were recovered within 7 days. Since 2005, the USMS has rescued more than 2,000 missing children. The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 enhanced the U.S. Marshals’ authority to assist federal, state and local law enforcement with the recovery of missing, endangered or abducted children, regardless of whether a criminal or sex offender was involved. The Marshals established a Missing Child Unit to oversee and manage the implementation of its enhanced authority under the act.