During a two-week operation referred to as “Operation Not Forgotten” in Georgia, the U.S. Marshals Service worked alongside local authorities to rescue 26 missing children and ensure the safe location of 13 others.
Nine people were arrested, most of whom had multiple warrants for charges including parental kidnapping, drugs and weapons possession, registered sex offender violations, and sex trafficking.
Director of the Marshals Service Donald Washington had a message for those effected by human trafficking: “The message to missing children and their families is that we will never stop looking for you.”
The youngest child that was rescued was reportedly only 3 years old. While many of the children had been missing for several weeks, one had been gone for two years.
According to the press release by the Marshals, the children who were rescued were believed 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 Missing Child Unit of the U.S. Marshals Service worked alongside the Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and multiple state and local agencies to conduct the operation.
“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. 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,” said Darby Kirby, chief of the Missing Child Unit.