“We’re bound by red tape.” Former FBI agents speak out


TOLEDO, Ohio – Bill Roccia and Bill Radcliffe spent 15 years working together as agents for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Toledo, but now they are in a new fight. They want to stop missing Ohio children from being lured into sex trafficking.

“It’s a very sinister lifestyle that we are trying to get them away from,” Roccia said.

The retired special agents say their career together fighting organized crime prepared them to search for missing children.

When asked if the community needs a wake-up call to really see how dangerous sex trafficking is, Radcliffe said, “We need a wake-up call, yes, in North West Ohio, but we need a wake-up call everywhere in the country because it’s not a problem that’s going away; it’s a growing problem.”

The men say they have been working for nearly two years to get clearance to help search for missing children, but they are running into roadblocks every time.

“We are retired,” Radcliffe said. “We no longer have any authority under any federal statute. If we go out and start knocking on doors to look for children to develop leads in finding them, if we do so without any authority, we’re in effect vigilantes.”

Roccia and Radcliffe have asked for credentials and liability insurance from The Toledo Police Department, the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office, the Toledo F.B.I. Office, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

So far, they have been denied.

The former agents made it clear: they are not looking for a second career or to get rich. They say simply want to help save young girls at risk in our community.

Experts tell us when a child runs away, there is only a two week window to find them before they might be absorbed into trafficking.

There is already a child exploitation FBI task force in northwest Ohio but it only focuses on children who are already trafficked, not those who are missing and actively being recruited into trafficking.

“We have a cadre of retired agents who are willing and able to get involved,” Roccia said. “They all have the same question: ‘What would be my authority?’ We can do a lot of good and prevent a lot of tragedy.”

The former agents do not just want to volunteer their time in Ohio; they want to expose the link between our nation’s missing children and their vulnerability to sex trafficking.

“We’re looking at something we can translate potentially to other cities across the country,” Radcliffe said.

With an estimated 100,000 trafficked children in the United States every year, fighting the problem could make Roccia and Radcliffe the hardest working retired agents out there.

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