Ohio law enforcement officials said they recovered 35 missing children during a joint effort called Operation Safety Net. The U.S. Marshals Service worked with several state and local partners to locate and recover missing kids from the Cuyahoga County Area.
United States Marshal Pete Elliot, Police Chief Calvin Williams, Sheriff David Schilling, East Cleveland Police Chief Scott Gardner, and Newburgh Heights Police Chief John Majoy made the joint announcement on Monday. The children ranged in age from 13 to 18.
20% Tied To Human Trafficking
The task force went in search of 40 missing kids. They recovered 35 of those children. Elliot said that just over 20% of the cases are tied to human trafficking.
Just because a child was listed as missing, it doesn’t mean they were kidnapped or held against their will. The majority of missing kids leave home voluntarily, although that doesn’t mean they aren’t in a dangerous situation. Elliot said his team is committed to finding the kids that are still missing. “Members of the task force and its local partners will continue to work over the next several weeks to bring these five remaining children and other children to safety.”
Police found the missing kids all over the state, including Cleveland, Euclid, Akron, Mansfield, Columbus, and other cities throughout Ohio. A child was also found in Miami, Florida.
Permanent Missing Child Unit
The success of the operation inspired the United States Marshal for the Northern District of Ohio to create a permanent Missing Child Unit to focus on 40 counties in Northern Ohio.
Elliott said, “This was new unchartered territory and the first time we conducted an operation like this. I am very proud of our law enforcement, community, and media partners who worked tirelessly to bring our missing and most vulnerable children to safety. The establishment of a permanent unit in Northern Ohio will ensure that our most vulnerable missing children will continue to be found and brought to safety.”
Still Looking For 5 Kids
The five children still missing are:
Leantwana Bates – 17
Yalonda Bates – 15
Ja-Niva Scott-Lee – 16
Alicia Jackson – 16
Issac Ortiz – 16
Anyone with information about these missing kids can call the U.S. Marshals tip line at 1-866-492-6833.