(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today announced a year-long effort by his office had identified 146 youth at risk of being trafficked in 2017 and provided that information to 13 local law enforcement agencies in the state. The announcement was coordinated with the release of the Ohio Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Commission Annual Report and was made at today’s meeting of the Ohio Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Commission.
“I’m proud of the work we do to protect and serve the victims of this heinous crime. By using our resources and working together, we’re able to approach this issue from many perspectives,” said Attorney General DeWine. “We will continue to build on this progress in 2018 as we fight the criminals who seek to exploit our children and others for their own illicit gain.”
The initiative, introduced last year by Attorney General DeWine, uses data from the Ohio Missing Children Clearinghouse to identify vulnerable children. The Attorney General’s Office Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI) Missing Persons Unit identified frequent runaways using the clearinghouse, a central repository for statistics and information about missing children in Ohio. Runaways have an increased risk of being trafficked.
BCI agents also held several training sessions in 2017 to educate law enforcement about high-risk youth and frequent runaways. Officers learned how to look further into each runaway’s case to identify risk factors for trafficking.
The commission, in its 2017 Human Trafficking Commission Annual Report, reported 208 potential victims of human trafficking were identified in Ohio, with female victims comprising more than 90 percent of that number. While ages for victims ranged from younger than 13 to 85 or older, most victims were between 21 and 29 years old.
A copy of the report is available on the Ohio Attorney General’s website.