CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS) — The U.S. Marshals Service in the Southern Districts of West Virginia (SDWV) and Ohio conducted an operation which helped find 45 missing children. Operation Autumn Hope was a multi-agency enforcement which focused on human trafficking, and locating missing and exploited children.
Altogether, 45 children were recovered with 13 of the children being found in the Southern Districts of West Virginia and Ohio. The Cops United Felony Fugitive Enforcement Division (CUFFED) Task Force along with West Virginia Department of Corrections, the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, the Roane County Sheriff’s Office, the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, the Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office, the Princeton Police Department, the Ravenswood Police Department and the Ironton Ohio Police Department participated in the operation.
U. S. Marshal Michael Baylous reported 13 missing children recovered by the CUFFED Task Force were found in West Virginia and Ohio:
– 3 children missing from San Bernardino, California, taken in a parental dispute were recovered in Beckley, West Virginia;
– 3 children missing from Columbus, Ohio were recovered in Jackson County, West Virginia;
– 1 child missing from within the SDWV was located in Princeton, West Virginia – the USMS had this case less than 6 hours before locating the missing child;
– 2 children missing from within the SDWV were located in Dunbar and Putnam County, West Virginia;
– 3 children missing from Lawrence County, Ohio were recovered in Lawrence County, Ohio; and,
– 1 child missing from Richmond, Virginia was found in Princeton, West Virginia.
“Everyday a child remains missing, the likelihood of them becoming harmed or victimized greatly increases,” said Michael Baylous, U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of West Virginia. “The USMS makes finding these children a priority. As a result over the past 5 years the USMS has a 75% success rate in finding missing children.”
“Human trafficking is a horrendous crime that impacts communities in West Virginia and throughout the country. When children are missing they are at great risk of becoming victims of human trafficking,” said United States Attorney Mike Stuart. “Our U.S. Marshals and federal, state and local partners are true heroes for their tireless work to find and protect missing children.”