Oct. 27 (UPI) -- Federal authorities have made nearly 200 arrests this month and recovered dozens of missing children in a trafficking operation in central Ohio, officials said.
The U.S. Marshals Service and Ohio Attorney General's office said the multi-agency Operation Autumn Hope found 45 child victims of human trafficking, sexual misconduct and other crimes.
Authorities said 20 other vulnerable children were located through well-being checks.
"The success of Operation Autumn Hope is measured not only in the number of arrests but in the lives that were rescued from this evil," Ohio Attorney General David Yost said in a statement Monday.
"Every agency on this team looks for the day when no person is bought and sold in Ohio. Don't buy sex in Ohio."
Sgt. Dana Hess, director of the multi-agency Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, said some of the cases fell through the cracks for various reasons. The victims were referred to social service agencies once they were rescued.
In one case, law enforcement said they found an at-risk 15-year-old girl in Columbus with suspected human traffickers after she went missing from Cleveland. Two other children were recovered during a traffic stop in West Virginia.
Yost's office some victims had been exploited and used for sex trafficking and some of the 179 suspects arrested were looking to buy sex.
"Survivors of rape and sex trafficking deserve to be believed and have access to justice," said Sondra Miller, president of the Cleveland Rape Center.
"By holding offenders accountable and reducing demand for human trafficking, this operation prevented many from being harmed."