45 kids rescued, hundreds arrested during anti-human trafficking operation, officials say

Results of statewide anti-human trafficking operation announced by Ohio AG

COLUMBUS, Ohio (FOX19) - The outcome of a statewide anti-human trafficking operation resulted in dozens of kids being rescued and hundreds of people being arrested.

A total of 45 missing children were rescued across southern Ohio by the U.S. Marshal’s Service during Operation Autumn Hope, Attorney General Dave Yost announced.

In what he thinks is the largest state-wide anti-human trafficking operation in Ohio, AG Yost said 177 “Johns” were arrested.

The goals of this operation was to rescue victims, find missing and exploited kids, apprehending those seeking sex with a minor, and arrest men seeking to buy sex.

The operation was carried out last week by more than 50 law enforcement agencies and non-government partners.

“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,” Yost said. “Every agency on this team looks for the day when no person is bought and sold in Ohio. Don’t buy sex in Ohio.”

It was also last week that Portsmouth lawyer and former city council member Michael Mearan, 74, was indicted on 18 felony counts related to an alleged sex trafficking ring in southern Ohio.

AG Yost said Mearan’s indictment was not part of Operation Autumn Hope.

He said this was a separate investigation that lasted years.

The indictment says Mearan engaged in sex trafficking from 2003-2018, with six victims being involved.

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