A U.S.-Marshal-led operation in the recovery of missing children found tremendous success as over three dozen children were found in a two-week mission.
The U.S. Marshal Service announced in a press release that their “Operation Not Forgotten” resulted in the rescue of 26 children and the safe location of 13 others who were reported missing–recovering almost three children a day.
Mostly taking place in Atlanta and Macon, the U.S. Marshals Service Missing Child Unit had worked with the agency’s Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force, local authorities, and the non-profit organization “National Center for Missing and Exploited Children” to execute the successful mission, per CBS.
Twenty-six arrest warrants were cleared and “nine criminals associates” were arrested. Charges for alleged crimes related to sex trafficking, parental kidnapping, registered sex offender violations, custodial interference, drugs and weapons possession, were all filed.
Local authorities praised the mission and encouraged missing children to never lose hope.
“The message to missing children and their families is that we will never stop looking for you,” Director of the Marshals Service Donald Washington said in a press release, per the Daily Mail.
STATEMENT: U.S. Marshals find 39 missing children in Georgia during 'Operation Not Forgotten’
— Josh Caplan (@joshdcaplan) August 27, 2020
According to a press release on the U.S. Marshals website: “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.”
“Other children were located at the request of law enforcement to ensure their wellbeing. USMS investigators were able to confirm each child’s location in person and assure their safety and welfare,” the release added.
Praising the mission Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said: “I cannot say enough about Operation Not Forgotten and the men and women behind it.”
“Thirty-nine: that’s how many young lives are getting a new start, and that’s how we measure success,” he added.
Carr also tweeted: “We will leave no stone unturned as we work to hold accountable any who perpetrated crimes against these young individuals.”
ICYMI: @FOX5Atlanta was undercover with law enforcement officials throughout Operation Not Forgotten. A great look into the rescue of these 39 children. We will leave no stone unturned as we work to hold accountable any who perpetrated crimes against these young individuals. https://t.co/iwbZz39lgM
— GA AG Chris Carr (@Georgia_AG) August 28, 2020
In 2019 the US Marshal Services helped recover 295 missing children while assisting local law enforcement.
“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,” Chief of the Missing Child Unit, Darby Kirby, said. “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.”