COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Authorities detained two suspects and are now investigating after a human trafficking operation led to the discovery and rescue of nine victims and two children.
The Columbia Police Department, Boone County Sheriff’s Office, Missouri State Highway Patrol, Missouri Attorney General’s Office, and other local, state, and federal agencies detained the two suspects at the Holiday Inn East hotel in Columbia Friday night.
“Since taking office, I’ve been dedicated to combating human trafficking across the state. Through my Office’s Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force, we have conducted several successful human trafficking operations, including last night’s operation in Columbia,” said Attorney General Eric Schmitt. “Thanks to the hard work and cooperation of local, state, and federal law enforcement, we were able to rescue 9 victims. I want to thank the Columbia Police Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Boone County Sheriff’s Office, and all the other agencies that helped make this a success. We’re working every single day to make Missouri the most inhospitable state in the union to human traffickers, and last night’s operation was another step towards that goal.”
According to a press release, the victims were offered victim services, including food, lodging, onsite medical services, counseling/therapy and drug rehabilitation.
Rise Coalition, True North, and Relentless Pursuit also provided victim services.
"Traffickers show no respect for their victims and prey on them for personal gain," said Columbia Police Department assistant chief and commander of the department's Investigations Bureau Jeremiah Hunter. "We will continue to work with Attorney General Schmitt and other law enforcement partners to pursue those who prey on others and to assure this activity no longer occurs in Columbia."
Stay with ABC 17 News for more information on this developing story.