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The Missouri State Highway Patrol joined more than a 100 federal, state, and local law enforcement officers this week in a statewide effort to ensure the safety and well-being of Missouri’s foster children. Operation Helping Oppressed People Escape is an initiative aimed at locating and recovering children missing from the state’s foster care program.

“As a direct result of this operation, five individuals were arrested, and 23 additional investigations were generated, four of which are for human trafficking,” states a highway patrol release.

The operation resulted in locating 23 runaways varying in age from 13 to 17. Operation H.O.P.E. focused on the Kansas City, St. Louis, and Springfield metropolitan areas, but ultimately spanned across several Missouri counties.

“The goal of the officers was to ensure the safety of the foster children, while identifying and eliminating fraud and abuse occurring within Missouri’s Foster Care Program,” states the release.

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