The U.S. Marshals are working with Ohio authorities to find missing and exploited children, and so far at least 25 kids have been rescued.
The children were found across the state in 20 days. They were found in East Cleveland, Akron, Mansfield, Euclid, Willoughby, and even as far as Miami, Florida, WKYC reported. All of the rescued kids are between 13 and 18 years old.
“When we track down fugitives, it’s a good feeling to know that we’re putting the bad guy behind bars. But that sense of accomplishment is nothing compared to finding a missing child,” said Darby Kirby, chief of the U.S. Marshal’s Missing Child Unit.
Authorities didn’t give specifics about any of the children’s cases, but they’ve been through nightmare scenarios.
“These are kids that have been abused, neglected. Some involved in human trafficking,” U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott told 19 News. “We’ve had some cases where the mother and or father, or both, may have been prostituting their own child.”
With about 200 missing children in Northeast Ohio, the Marshals are not done with “Operation Safety Net.” Elliott said that they could continue searching into October.
The Marshals also found 39 missing children in Georgia around the same time as the Ohio children. Like in Ohio, the Marshals are working with state and local law enforcement agencies in other U.S. cities in the hopes of rescuing more exploited children.