Operation Safety Net, led by the U.S. Marshals Service, rescued 25 missing children in northeastern Ohio.
In the past 20 days, Marshals have worked with Cleveland, East Cleveland and Newburgh Heights police to find just more than two dozen missing children between 13 and 18 years old, WOIO-TV in Cleveland reported.
One in four of the teens were victims of human trafficking.
There are about 200 children missing in northeast Ohio, and the task force is continuing efforts to track down as many as possible, the station reported.
A collaborative effort that spanned two weeks in Georgia led to the recovery of 39 missing children, including 15 who authorities said were trafficked for sex, officials reported last week.
“These are not children that are in some faraway land,” said Donald Washington, director of the U.S. Marshals Service. “They are America’s children and they are kids that we need to go and find.”
Washington said that every 40 seconds a child is abducted in the United States. Of the more than 421,000 children missing in the U.S., 91 percent are considered endangered runaways, he said, and about one-sixth of those are likely to become sex trafficking victims.
Gov. Mike DeWine also mentioned the rescue during a press briefing Tuesday.
Human trafficking is a tragedy that occurs every day in the U.S. and unfortunately Ohio is no exception, he said.
The governor added that its important for Ohioans to recognize the signs of trafficking, such a young person with someone older who does not appear to be a parent, a young person who is rarely alone or a young person with a controlling boyfriend.
DeWine noted that a large percentage of people who are trafficked are runaways, but that not all runaways are trafficked.
If anything looks out of place with children in your neighborhood or you know of a missing child, call the U.S. Marshals tip line at 1-866-492-6833.
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