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Criminal Justice Update

BCI identifies 146 children at risk of falling prey to traffickers

A service offered last year to local law enforcement agencies by the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) identified 146 children who were at risk of falling victim to human trafficking in 2017.
The BCI Missing Persons Unit regularly analyzes records that are part of the Ohio Missing Children Clearinghouse, which serves as a central repository of information about the state’s missing children.
The analysts look for children who have run away multiple times in a short period or those who have been reported missing from several communities. BCI also regularly searches other law enforcement databases and public sources, such as social media for indications that the children could be vulnerable to traffickers.
During the past year, the BCI unit shared the information about the 146 children with the 13 agencies involved so that steps could be taken to intervene and prevent the youths from falling victim to traffickers.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced the initiative’s progress at the Jan. 29 meeting of the Ohio Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Commission.
“Our plan is to continue this initiative and prevent high-risk youths from being ensnared in trafficking and abuse,” he said. “Sometimes, all these kids really need is someone to take the time to listen, to care, and to protect them.”

Special agents from the unit are available to assist local law enforcement, human trafficking coalitions, and service agencies in developing plans to help at-risk children. Agents can also be called upon to assist in human trafficking investigations.

During the commission meeting, Attorney General DeWine also shared information from the commission’s annual report, which was released after the meeting.

Ohio Revised Code Section 109.66 requires local law enforcement agencies to collect data on human trafficking investigations and forward the information to BCI. According to the data collected in 2017, law enforcement reported 202 human trafficking investigations leading to 70 arrests and 18 successful criminal convictions.

In the report, law enforcement identified 208 potential victims of human trafficking, 221 suspected traffickers, and 257 suspected consumers.
The factors contributing to a person being victimized by a trafficker included dependency to drugs or alcohol; being homeless or a runaway; being without citizenship; being truant; and being oppressed, marginalized, and/or impoverished.
To read a copy of the commission report, visit  For help with an investigation, call 855-BCI-OHIO (855-224-6446).