The U.S. Marshals Service continues its mission to locate missing children. The U.S. Marshals announced this week that they had rescued 35 missing and endangered children during "Operation Safety Net" in Ohio.
Operation Safety Net, a joint investigation by the U.S. Marshals Service and local police in Ohio, tracked down 35 missing kids from the Cuyahoga County area. The lost children, who were between the ages of 13 and 18, were found in Ohio cities, including Cleveland, Akron, and Columbus, as well as Miami, Florida.
More than 20% of the endangered children were tied to human trafficking cases, according to the news release from the U.S. Marshals Service.
"This was new unchartered territory and the first time we conducted an operation like this," U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott said in a statement on Monday. "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."
Newburgh Heights Police Chief John Majoy said his department was "proud to assist in Operation Safety Net," and commended the United States Marshals Service for "their hard work and dedication toward locating these children."
"Many times, they do not know they are a victim and this operation offers hope, freedom and safety they would not otherwise have," Majoy said. "This is a fine example of local, state and federal partners all working together for a notable cause. Together we can all make a difference."
Operation Safety Net is still working on five cases that remain open, which will be handled by the Marshals Task Force and local law enforcement in the next several weeks. The missing children they are looking for are Leantwana Bates, 17, Yalonda Bates, 15, Ja-Niya Scott-Lee, 16, Alicia Jackson, 16, and Issac Ortiz, 16.
Following the success of Operation Safety Net, a permanent Missing Child Unit was created in northern Ohio "to focus on those missing, abused, neglected and trafficked juveniles."
In the last four weeks, U.S. Marshals have located nearly 90 missing and endangered children.
In late August, the U.S. Marshals Service located 39 missing children in Georgia and Florida during "Operation Not Forgotten." The Marshals said the children were between the ages of 3 to 17. Of the 39 endangered children, 15 were victims of sex trafficking.
Earlier this month, U.S. Marshals reported that they rescued eight "highly endangered" missing children in Indiana during "Operation Homecoming."
Last week, U.S. Marshals Service wrapped up "Operation Triple Beam," a 60-day mission to reduce violent gang crime in Oklahoma City. U.S. Marshals rescued five missing children, made 262 arrests, and seized illegal firearms and narcotics.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement participated in a multi-agency operation that resulted in the arrest of five suspected child sexual predators. "Operation Home Alone 2" was able to successfully "target sexual predators who attempted to lure underage children with the intent of engaging in sexual activity."