35 missing Northeast Ohio children recovered during month-long operation; 5 remain unaccounted for

35 missing Northeast Ohio children recovered during month-long operation; 5 remain unaccounted for
Top left corner, clockwise: Ja-Niya Scott-Lee, Leantwana Bates, Yalonda Bates, Alicia Jackson, Issac Ortiz (Source: U.S. Marshals Service)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A joint-effort over the past month between local and federal law enforcement agencies resulted in the recovery of nearly three dozen missing children, the U.S. Marshals Service announced.

Of the 35 missing and endangered children between the ages of 13 and 18 recovered during Operation Safety Net, just over 20% of them were tied to human trafficking.

The children recovered were located in areas that include Cleveland, Akron, Mansfield, Columbus, and Miami, Fla.

Initially, 40 cases of missing children were referred to the operation. Only five cases remain open.

Ja-Niya Scott-Lee:

  • Reported missing on Aug. 23 from Cleveland, believed to be in Euclid
  • 16 years old
  • 5 feet 3 inches tall, 130 pounds

Leantwana Bates:

  • Reported missing on April 18 from Youngstown, believed to be near the East side of Cleveland
  • 17 years old
  • 5 feet 3 inches tall, 135 pounds

Yalonda Bates:

  • Reported missing on April 18 from Youngstown, believed to be near the East side of Cleveland
  • 15 years old
  • 5 feet 3 inches tall, 100 pounds

Alicia Jackson:

  • Reported missing from Berea, believed to be near the East side of Cleveland, possibly near the Glenville neighborhood
  • 16 years old

Issac Ortiz:

  • Reported missing from Lorain, believed to be near the West side of Cleveland
  • 16 years old

Because of the success of Operation Safety Net, the U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of Ohio has established a permanent Missing Child Unity, which will serve 40 counties in Northern Ohio to focus on missing, abused, and trafficking youth.

“This was new, uncharted territory, and the first time we conducted an operation like this,” said U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott. "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 Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office and police departments from Cleveland, East Cleveland, and Newburgh Heights assisted in the operation.

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