An operation by the U.S. Marshals has recovered 45 mission children in Ohio, as well as other victims.
Operation Autumn Hope is the largest anti-human trafficking operation in state history, and resulted in the recovery of 45 missing children, 109 survivors of human trafficking, 177 arrests, and 76 missing child cases closed.
"My thanks to all personnel who have stepped up for this operation. These are the same personnel who hunt down violent fugitives every day," said U.S. Marshal for the Southern district of Ohio Peter C. Tobin. "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."
The majority of the arrests occurred in the Toledo, Cleveland, and Columbus areas and included charges of felony counts of importuning, attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, and possession of criminal tools.
"The success of Operation Autumn Hope is measured not only in the number of arrests but in the lives that were rescued from this evil. Every agency on this team looks for the day when no person is bought and sold in Ohio. Don't buy sex in Ohio!," said Ohio Attorney General David Yost.
Yost added that human trafficking "operates in the shadows" and is not just limited to urban areas.
"Operation Autumn Hope is sending a loud and clear message: We are watching, we will catch you, and we will protect our children," said Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin.