35 Children Rescued Across Northern Ohio in ‘Operation Safety Net’

September 21, 2020 Updated: September 22, 2020

“Operation Safety Net” has resulted in the recovering of 35 children in northeastern Ohio, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.

Children were found in Akron, Cleveland, Columbus, Euclid, Mansfield, and other cities in Ohio, as well as Miami, Florida, the service stated in a news release.

The children were between the ages of 13 and 18, and were considered missing or endangered, officials said. About 20 percent of the cases were tied to human trafficking, and they were referred to a separate task force.

“Of the 40 missing cases referred to the Marshals Task Force only five cases remain open. 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,” the Marshals Service stated.

The service worked in tandem with the Cleveland Division of Police, East Cleveland Police, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, and Newburgh Heights police.

“We are proud to assist in Operation Safety Net, and I commend the United States Marshals Service for their hard work and dedication toward locating these children,” Newburgh Heights Police Chief John Majoy said. “Many times, they do not know they are a victim, and this operation offers hope, freedom and safety they would not otherwise have.”

“This was new uncharted territory, and the first time we conducted an operation like this,” U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott said. “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.”

The U.S. Marshals Service’s missing child department said it’s asking for support from the community in locating five remaining missing children. Tips can be submitted through the U.S. Marshals tip line at 1-866-492-6833.

It comes as U.S. Marshals have been carrying out operations to find missing children and break up suspected human trafficking rings.

Another mission led to the discovery of about 25 children ages 13 through 18 in Ohio, officials said. And last week, the service reported that 262 suspects were arrested and five children were found in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

“Operation Triple Beam OKC was a targeted enforcement initiative by the Marshals and their partners to address violent crime in and around Oklahoma City,” U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Oklahoma Johnny Kuhlman told news outlets. “Our primary goal with operations like OTB is to make communities safer. When we arrest these violent fugitives, we are also removing guns and narcotics from our streets. We believe these efforts have an immediate, positive impact on the communities we serve.”