Child sex trafficking is one of the biggest and most ignored problems of our time, but thankfully our U.S. Marshals are working to bring it to light. The latest human trafficking bust heroically yielded a successful rescue mission, recovering dozens of America’s missing children.
Last week, the U.S. Marshals Service announced in a statement that new task force “Operation Safety Net” has found 25 children from the state of Ohio. The task force is made up of about 350 men and women from 125 different departments within the state, all of whom are dedicated to the mission.
The victims, who ranged between 13-18 years old, were reportedly recovered in areas along the east coast in the Ohio cities of Cleveland, East Cleveland, Akron, Mansfield, Euclid, Willoughby – and others were even as far away as Miami, Florida.
Upon their rescue, many of the children were sent to local hospitals to be checked out, according to U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott.
Elliott told local news outlet WOIO, “These are kids that have been abused, neglected.” One in four of these recovered children were victims of human trafficking.
Elliot described the most disturbing part of how some of these kids went missing in the first place. “Sometimes the situations they—they go to, believe it or not, may be better than the situations they left from,” Elliot said. “We’ve had some cases where the mother and or father, or both, may have been prostituting their own child,” he continued.
Although the mission has only been active for about two weeks, the Marshals intend to continue working under Operation Safety Net for several more to rescue the rest of Ohio’s 200 missing children.
This good news comes just a week after the U.S. Marshal Service officially announced Georgia’s “Operation Not Forgotten,” which similarly recovered 26 of the state’s endangered missing children.
According to the U.S. Marshals, “These missing children were considered to be some of the most at-risk and challenging recovery cases in the area, based on indications of high-risk factors such as victimization of child sex trafficking, child exploitation, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and medical or mental health conditions,” they alarmingly explained.
Plainly put, this means that the children were rescued before their conditions irreversibly worsened – or they were simply never to be seen again.
It is terrifying that there are thousands of missing children in America hidden right under our noses. According to the FBI, an estimated 460,000 children are reported missing annually in the United States, outnumbering many western countries including the U.K., Germany, Canada, and Spain combined by nearly 200,000.
Thankfully, the U.S. Marshals refuse to give up on this massive problem that politicians and the media seem to largely neglect.
Director of the Marshals Service Donald Washington says his agency’s “message to missing children and their families is that we will never stop looking for you.” Hopefully, we continue to see hundreds if not thousands more children rescued in the upcoming weeks and months.