After a two-week search for endangered children in Georgia, the U.S. Marshals Service on Thursday announced the recovery of 39 children: “Operation Not Forgotten” rescued 26 missing children and safely located 13 others.
Nine people were arrested and charged with sex trafficking, parental kidnapping, registered sex offender violations, drugs and weapons possession and custodial interference, officials said.
“The message to missing children and their families is that we will never stop looking for you,” U.S. Marshals Service Director Donald Washington said in a statement.
The U.S. Marshals Service Missing Child Unit, along with Georgia state and local agencies, began “Operation Not Forgotten” in Atlanta and Macon to find “endangered” children.
The children ranged from 3 to 17 years old, Washington said at a news conference.
“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,” Darby Kirby, chief of the Missing Child Unit, said in a statement.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says there isn’t an official count of missing children in the U.S. because children are “never reporting missing.” But in 2019, the organization reported more than 421,000 missing children to the FBI.
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