CLEVELAND — The Cuyahoga County Human Trafficking Task Force is making a difference in its effort to scale back the horrific problem here in Ohio.
The county reported 34 victims of human trafficking were recovered in 2017, 45 victims were recovered in 2018 and 52 victims were recovered in 2019. The county task force also reported the number of search warrants served in these investigations have tripled in just the past three years.
Task force Detective John Morgan, said awareness and people reporting suspected cases are critical in dealing with growing human trafficking, a problem that has Ohio ranked fourth in the nation when it comes to calls into the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
“The human trafficking issue in our area is bigger than people might think,” Morgan said. “Kids as young as 13. We recovered one as young as 12 years old. We don’t have the resources to combat it the way that we would like to, however, we are making a serious dent. The hardest part about this, once we recover the victims and they become survivors, is getting them to come forward and testify against their traffickers.”
Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Marilyn Cassidy hosted a human trafficking community forum, organized by Black on Black Crime Inc. in East Cleveland, on March 4.
Cassidy has set up a special docket to deal with the growing number of human trafficking cases and said awareness and education are two of the best ways to help reduce the problem.
“It’s in Westlake, it’s in Beachwood, it’s certainly in East Cleveland," Cassidy said. “There have been school-aged children who have been trafficked out of their homes, in other words, sneaking out of the home at night and then sneaking back in. We do think we’re a little ahead of the game in terms of educating the public. You're going to have more people calling and saying 'I’m suspecting something is going on here,' so we just keep going, one thing at a time, one person at a time and get out and do the community education."