U.S. Marshals located 25 missing and endangered children from Ohio in the past 20 days of an ongoing operation. U.S. Marshals worked with state and local agencies in Ohio to track down missing children in Operation Safety Net.
The missing children, who were between the ages of 13 and 18, were found in Cleveland, East Cleveland, Euclid, Willoughby, and as far away as Miami, Florida. U.S. Marshals noted that a quarter of the endangered children were victims of human trafficking and prostitution.
"These are kids that have been abused, neglected. Some involved in human trafficking," U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott told
WOIO-TV. "Sometimes the situations they — they go to, believe it or not, may be better than the situations they left from. We've had some cases where the mother and or father, or both, may have been prostituting their own child.
"We're trying to do our part. A number of these children have gone to the hospital after we've recovered them to get checked out, so again this is something we take very seriously," Elliott added. "I'll tell you this, it will be something we'll be doing every year. This is our first time we have done this, it's been uncharted territory for us, but we've had great success."
The Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force, Cleveland Division of Police, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department, the East Cleveland Police Department, and the Newburgh Heights Police Department are assisting U.S. Marshals in Operation Safety Net, according to the Mansfield News Journal.
Operation Safety Net will continue for a few more weeks, and it has a goal to find the about 200 missing children from Northeast Ohio.
Information on the whereabouts of missing children can be provided at the U.S. Marshals tip line at 1-866-492-6833.
Earlier this week, U.S. Marshals rescued 26 missing children and safely located 13 during "Operation Not Forgotten." The endangered children, who ranged in age from 3 to 17, were found in Georgia and Florida. Of the 39 children, 15 were victims of sex trafficking.
In a separate operation called "Operation Moving Target," 27 men were arrested in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. The men reportedly engaged in sexually explicit online conversations with undercover officers while posing as children, according to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O'Malley.
During the four-day undercover operation that took place this week, men contacted, who they believed to be minors via social media apps.
"The defendants apparently expressed an interest in engaging in sexual activity with the purported children and/or disseminated images of their genitals during these online conversations," according to WKYC-TV.
The men, between the ages of 21 and 61, allegedly traveled to a vacant house in Cuyahoga County, according to the prosecutor's office. When the men arrived at the house, authorities were there to arrest and take them to the county jail.
Several of the suspects had condoms, personal lubricant, sex toys, and drugs in their possession when they were arrested, officials say.
Many of the suspects were charged with attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, disseminating matter harmful to juveniles, importuning, and possession of criminal tools.
Operation Moving Target was coordinated by the Ohio ICAC Task Force, and worked in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI, the U.S. Secret Service, the Ohio Adult Parole Authority, Ohio BCI, Newburgh Heights Police, Solon Police, Kent Police, Streetsboro Police, Cortland Police, and Cleveland Police.
The suspects include:
- Rajwant Singh, 44, Mayfield Heights
- Adam Davis, 41, Painesville
- Germaine Truett, 38, Cleveland
- Jason Johnson, 37, Cleveland
- Ronel Washington, 24, Garfield Heights
- Hector Pietri, 29, Cleveland
- Kyle Vansteenburg, 28, Cleveland
- Raphael Robinson, 26, Cleveland
- Cory Huber, 32, Elyria
- Michael Labandano, 39, Lyndhurst
- Nicholas Cook, 38, Bedford Heights
- Chazz Johnson-Hawks, 22, Solon
- Ian Rensel, 43, Bedford
- Jerry Harris, 35, Westlake
- Carson Stmisa, 21, Seven Hills
- Justin Cowger, 22, Cleveland
- Kim Koran, 61, Cleveland
- Nathan Troup, 39, New Castle, Pennsylvania
- Abed Aldur, 45, Parma
- Arturo Martinez, 47, University Heights
- Phillip Jones, 30, Streetsboro
- Keith Kozak, 41, Brooklyn
- Pedro Correa Jr., 42, Cleveland
- Ryan Demplsey, 37, Ashtabula
- Johnathan Smith, 34, Cleveland
- Robert Spisak, 45, Broadview Heights
- Jason Schmucker, 37, Canton