Some good news out of Georgia! Operation Not Forgotten, led by the US Marshals Service, announced that they had recovered 39 missing children.
“The U.S. Marshals Service is fully committed to assisting federal, state, and local agencies with locating and recovering endangered missing children, in addition to their primary fugitive apprehension mission,” said Director of the Marshals Service Donald Washington.
“The message to missing children and their families is that we will never stop looking for you.”
In addition to the rescued children, 9 people were arrested and charged with sex trafficking, parental kidnapping, registered sex offender violations, drugs and weapons possession, and custodial interference.
According to the Marshals, “investigators cleared 26 arrest warrants and filed additional charges for alleged crimes related to sex trafficking, parental kidnapping, registered sex offender violations, drugs and weapons possession, and custodial interference. The 26 warrants cleared included 19 arrest warrants for a total of nine individuals arrested, some of whom had multiple warrants.”
The two-week operation began in Atlanta with the goal of located high-risk endangered children between the ages of 3 and 17. Some of the children had been gone for a number of weeks, but at least one had been missing for two years.
“These missing children were considered to be some of the most at-risk and challenging recovery cases in the area, based on indications of high-risk factors such as victimization of child sex trafficking, child exploitation, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and medical or mental health conditions,” the Marshals announced in a press release.
The Marshals worked with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and other groups to coordinate the search. The effort took months of planning between the Marshals and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Georgia Office of the Attorney General, Georgia Department of Family and Children Services, Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
“When we track down fugitives, it’s a good feeling to know that we’re putting the bad guy behind bars. But that sense of accomplishment is nothing compared to finding a missing child,” said Darby Kirby, Chief of the Missing Child Unit.
“It’s hard to put into words what we feel when we rescue a missing child, but I can tell you that this operation has impacted every single one of us out here. We are working to protect them and get them the help they need.”
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, over 400,000 children were missing in 2019.