The United States Marshals Service (USMS), with the help of state and local agencies, located 225 missing children during a 10-week operation in states across the country, the agency said.
The multi-state operation, dubbed “We Will Find You”, was a nationwide effort to locate missing children. According to a USMS press release, many children have been runaways or abducted by non-custodial persons.
During the operation, authorities recovered 169 children and located 56 safely.
“The US Marshals Service is fully committed to the important mission of protecting the American people, especially our most vulnerable population – our children,” said Ronald Davis, director of the Marshals Service. “The results of this operation underscore that commitment, but also underscore the need for these critical efforts.
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Published data shows that 86% of the children were runaways in danger, 9% were family abductions and 5% were considered otherwise missing.
The youngest child recovered was just six months old.
Forty-two children were found outside the city in which they had disappeared, including ten in Mexico. Thirteen of the missing children were in California; in the Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County and Riverside County areas from March 1 to May 15, 2023, officials said.
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U.S. Marshals also arrested a “Top 15 Most Wanted” couple who fled to Mexico from Washington state with their five children, whom they also took into hiding.
According to the United States Marshals, “Operation We Will Find You” is the first national missing children operation focused on geographic areas with large groups of seriously missing children.
The agency said the children were “considered one of the toughest recovery cases in the region, based on indications of high-risk factors such as child sex trafficking victimization, child exploitation, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and medical or mental health conditions.”
The U.S. Marshals handed over 28 cases to law enforcement for further investigation into crimes including drugs, weapons, sex trafficking and sex offender violations, according to a statement from the U.S. Marshals. Law enforcement reported allegations of trafficking in more than 40 of the cases.
“Operation We Will Find You is a great example of how the US Marshals Service continues to prioritize the protection of children.”
“‘Operation We Will Find You’ is a great example of how the US Marshals Service continues to prioritize the protection of children,” said Michelle DeLaune, president and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited. Children.
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Anyone with information about missing/endangered children should contact their local police department and/or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-The-Lost.