The Columbia Police Department, Boone County Sheriff’s Office, Missouri State Highway Patrol, Missouri Attorney General’s Office, and a multitude of other local, state, and federal agencies conducted a successful joint human trafficking operation at the Holiday Inn East hotel in Columbia, Missouri last night.
The joint operation, organized by the Columbia Police Department, the Boone County Sheriff’s Office, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and Missouri Attorney General’s Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force, resulted in the rescue of 9 victims. The participating agencies made contact with 2 children as well. Additionally, 2 suspects were detained, and the investigation is ongoing.
The victims were offered victim services, including food, lodging, onsite medical services, counseling/therapy and drug rehabilitation.
“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 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.”
"Traffickers show no respect for their victims and prey on them for personal gain," said Columbia Police Department Assistant Chief Jeremiah Hunter, commander of the department's Investigations Bureau. "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."
The Attorney General’s Office would like to thank the Holiday Inn East where the operation was held for their cooperation and willingness to help in this important matter.
The Attorney General’s Office Human Trafficking Task Force consists of law enforcement and victim service providers from around the state working together to combat human trafficking, rescue victims and make our communities safer.
The agencies that participated in the operation are the Attorney General’s Office, Columbia Police Department, Boone County Sheriff’s Office, Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, St. Joseph Police Department, Missouri State Highway Patrol, MSHP’s Division of Drug and Crime Control, MSPH’s Missouri Information Analysis Center, Missouri Gaming Commission, Missouri Department of Corrections, Missouri Department of Probation and Parole, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Internal Revenue Service.
Rise Coalition, True North, and Relentless Pursuit provided victim services.
This is an ongoing investigation, and further information cannot be released at this time, although more information may be released at a later date.