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The U.S. Marshals Service announced in a press release Thursday that 39 missing children in Georgia had been located and rescued over two weeks in a mission known as “Operation Not Forgotten.”
“Operation Not Forgotten” resulted in the rescue of 26 children, the safe location of 13 children and the arrest of nine criminal associates. Additionally, 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 press release reads.
“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 release continues.
Check out the video report about the operation above.
The release goes on to say, “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.”
“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,” Darby Kirby, chief of the Missing Child Unit, said in a statement.
“We are working to protect them and get them the help they need,” he said.
“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 statement.
“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,” Kirby added.
According to the press release, the initiative was “the culmination of several months of planning and coordination between the USMS, NCMEC, 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.”