A month-long mission to Ohio recently found 45 missing children and led to 179 arrests, authorities said.
Dubbed Operation Autumn Hope, US Marshals Services in Ohio and Virginia followed the children, including a “high-risk” 15-year-old girl from Cleveland who was linked to an alleged human trafficking. the authorities announced Monday.
Twenty other children were also located as authorities checked their well-being.
During the recovery of one of the missing children, a loaded gun was found. A 15-year-old boy had two arrest warrants and is suspected of multiple shootings and murder, authorities said.
Two other minors were found in West Virginia during a traffic stop, leading to the arrest of an adult male accused of concealing / removing an underage child in Jackson County.
Autumn Hope was led by the Marshals in conjunction with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, as well as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and Ohio state and local agencies.
“I thank all of the staff who have come together for this operation,” said Peter C. Tobin, US Marshal for the Southern District of Ohio. “These are the same people who hunt down violent fugitives every day. I am extremely proud of them and happy that they were able to apply those same skills in locating missing children. I know Operation Autumn Hope has made a difference in many young lives.
The US Marshals have already carried out similar operations, including in Ohio.
Last month, they said 35 missing children, aged 13 to 18 from the Cuyahoga County area, were found during Operation Safety Net. Just over 20% of the cases found were linked to human trafficking.
The same month, Marshals also announced the arrest of 262 suspects, including 141 gang members, and the recovery of five missing children in Oklahoma.
Thirty-nine children were found in Georgia during Operation Not Forgotten in August and eight missing children were found in Indiana in September as part of Operation Homecoming.
Marshals found missing children in 75% of cases received – 72% of those cases were recovered within a week, officials said.
Since 2005, the agency has recovered more than 2,000 missing children.