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Local advocate calls Ohio anti-human trafficking operation that recovered 10 missing children, led to arrest of more than 200 suspects 'impressive'

Celia Williamson says you can help local victims by joining the Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition and sharing your skills.

TOLEDO, Ohio — A state-wide anti-human trafficking operation has helped recover 10 missing children and led to the arrest of more than 200 people, Attorney General Dave Yost said in a press conference yesterday. 

The week-long operation included the arrests of an Ohio city councilman, a teacher and a firefighter. 

The operation prompted WTOL 11 to ask a local human trafficking advocate what we're seeing here in Lucas County and how you can play a role in fighting the problem. 

Celia Williamson,  director of the Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute at the University of Toledo, says saving children and catching human traffickers is just the beginning.

"To have people identified and rescued, we can start the healing process. We can get victims into recovery services and continue to promote awareness," said Williamson. 

It's an issue that doesn't discriminate based on race, wealth or education.

"This is happening all over Ohio. Poor neighborhoods. Rich neighborhoods. Educated, uneducated. Black, white. It doesn't matter. It happens everywhere. That's why this fight is so important," said Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. 

Yost outlined the progress Monday after the operation. It's news Williamson says is impressive as the problem is so big.

"It's hard to put a number on it, just because it's underground. It's an illegal activity. But we see at least 70 victims a year in Lucas County. A range of young people who are at high risk for being trafficked," said Williamson. 

Williamson is also part of The Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition.

The group has helped pass laws and implement programming to free victims of human trafficking, something she says anyone can be a part of. 

"We really do value and appreciate all of the skills that people bring to the table. You don't have to have a particular skill; whatever you do and do well. Nine times out of 10 we can use it and we will use it," said Williamson. 

She says it takes group collaboration to catch the bad guys and you to be the eyes and ears. 

"If we're interested in justice, if we're interested in the basic dignity of human rights, we have to be concerned about those who purchase sex," said Yost. 

And to see that justice is served.

The next meeting of the Lucas County Human Trafficking Coalition is on Oct. 21. You can visit their website to learn more about the coalition. 

You can also reach out to the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 if you see something out of the ordinary. 

   

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