The U.S. Marshals Service announced this week that it recovered 225 endangered missing children during a 10-week national operation.
"The U.S. Marshals Service is fully committed to the important mission of protecting the American people, especially our most vulnerable population — our children," Ronald Davis, director of the Marshals Service, said in a press release. "The results of this operation underscore that commitment, but also highlight the necessity of these critical efforts.
"Our continued success can only be achieved through our collaboration with state and local law enforcement agencies, and partnership with NCMEC. Together, the USMS and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children have recovered over 3,100 missing children since the passage of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act in 2015."
According to the release, the operation was conducted from Washington, D.C.; the states of Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Louisiana, Texas, Michigan, California, Ohio, and Florida; and the territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Dubbed "Operation We Will Find You," marshals recovered 169 children and safely located another 59, referring 28 cases to law enforcement for further investigation, the agency said.
The referred cases included weapons possession, sex trafficking, drugs, and sex offender violations, according to the release.
The agency reported that 42 of the kids were found outside of the cities where they went missing, and 10 were found outside of the country, with the youngest child recovered being 6 months old.
According to the agency, 86% of the cases were "endangered runaways," 9% were family abductions, and 5% were considered "otherwise missing." Most were recovered within seven days of going missing.
"Operation We Will Find You is a great example of how the U.S. Marshals Service continues to prioritize child protection," NCMEC President and CEO Michelle DeLaune said in the release. "NCMEC is proud of our long-standing partnership with the USMS and commends them and the participating state and local agencies who helped recover the 225 endangered missing children."
Among the cases handled in the operation, 14 children were recovered in the Eastern District of Virginia and included the recovery of a 15-year-old Loudoun County girl who was found in the bedroom of a 30-year-old man, the agency said.
In the Los Angeles district, four 16-year-old females who are believed to have been victims of human trafficking were found during the operation.
"Our collaboration with various state, local, and federal partners allows our collective resources to be utilized in the most effective manner possible, especially during focused enforcement operations," assistant Chief Deputy U.S Marshal Kevin Williams of the Central District of California said. "The recovery of critically missing children is in direct alignment with Director Ronald Davis' vision of the men and women of the U.S. Marshals Service being more closely involved with violence reduction efforts within our communities."
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