25 missing and endangered Ohio children have been rescued in the past 20 days of Operation Safety Net, an ongoing sting operation by U.S. Marshals in cooperation with state and local agencies.
The children, all between the ages of 13 and 18, were found in Cleveland, East Cleveland, Euclid, Willoughby, and even Miami, Florida, according to WOIO-TV. Marshals noted that a quarter of the endangered children were victims of human trafficking and prostitution.
“These are kids that have been abused, neglected. Some involved in human trafficking,” U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott told the news outlet. “Sometimes the situations they — they go to, believe it or not, may be better than the situations they left from. We’ve had some cases where the mother and or father, or both, may have been prostituting their own child.”
“We’re trying to do our part,” Elliott went on. “A number of these children have gone to the hospital after we’ve recovered them to get checked out, so again this is something we take very seriously.”
“I’ll tell you this, it will be something we’ll be doing every year,” Elliott declared. “This is our first time we have done this, it’s been uncharted territory for us, but we’ve had great success.”
According to the Mansfield News Journal, the Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force, Cleveland Division of Police, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department, the East Cleveland Police Department, and the Newburgh Heights Police Department are each assisting U.S. Marshals in Operation Safety Net.
Operation Safety Net will continue for a few more weeks in hopes of reaching its goal of rescuing 200 missing Ohio children.
U.S. Marshals urge anyone with information on the whereabouts of missing children to call their 24-hour tip line at 1-866-492-6833.
As we reported late last week, U.S. Marshals rescued another 26 missing children and safely located 13 more during “Operation Not Forgotten.”
The children, who ranged in age from 3 to 17, were found in Georgia and Florida, 15 of which were being trafficked for sex.
“When we track down fugitives, it’s a good feeling to know that we’re putting the bad guy behind bars. But that sense of accomplishment is nothing compared to finding a missing child,” said Darby Kirby, Chief of the Missing Child Unit, in a statement regarding the bust.
“It’s hard to put into words what we feel when we rescue a missing child, but I can tell you that this operation has impacted every single one of us out here,” Kirby declared. “We are working to protect them and get them the help they need.”
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