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US Marshals lead effort to locate 21 missing children in Iowa

United States Marshals entering a building. (United States Marshals Service/Released)
March 30, 2021

The U.S. Marshals announced last week that it located 21 missing Iowa children and directly recovered seven children as part of a joint operation with federal, state and local agencies dubbed Operation Homecoming.

In conjunction with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation’s Missing Persons Clearinghouse, both the northern and southern districts of Iowa worked to find the children who were between the ages of 4 and 17.

A press release from the U.S. Marshals Service said some of the children are part of the “most at-risk and challenging recovery cases in the area, based on indications of high-risk factors such as exposure to narcotics, child exploitation, physical or sexual abuse, and medical or mental health conditions.”

The operation led law enforcement to locate missing Iowa children in Arizona, Nebraska, Minnesota, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, Illinois, Ohio and Indiana.

“The operation also resulted in the arrests of two individuals, the seizure of illegal narcotics, the seizure of two firearms, and four independent human trafficking investigations, which have been referred to the appropriate investigative agencies for further valuation,” the release stated.

Iowa U.S. Marshals are still searching for 15-year-old Fredrick Workman who was last seen in Des Moines in August 2013. The agency is offering a reward of $5,000 for information leading to his location.

“The goal of our involvement with missing child cases is not only to safely recover Iowa’s missing children, but also to aid our local and state partners who work these cases daily,” said Deputy U.S. Marshal Scott Cannon, Missing Child Investigations Coordinator for the Southern District of Iowa. “The Marshals Service is uniquely suited to provide assistance based on our expertise as the premier agency in tracking fugitives. We can use some of the same skill sets in recovering missing children as we use during fugitive investigations.”

Since 2015, the service has worked to investigate, locate and recover critically missing minors. The passage of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act granted the U.S. Marshal Service the authority to provide support to local law enforcement in locating and recovering missing children. Since the act was passed in 2015, the service has helped find over 1,750 missing children.  

Earlier this month, over two dozen missing children were found in Texas following a weeks-long operation conducted through a joint effort between local and federal law enforcement.

Called “Operation Missing in the Metroplex,” 31 children were located by the U.S. Marshals Service, Homeland Security Investigations, and police departments in Grand Prairie, Arlington, Fort Worth, and Dallas, NBC DFW reported.

“Human trafficking is something that we take seriously, that all of our agencies take seriously,” said Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia. “As a father of three kids I tell you what, it’s incredibly heart-wrenching to see not only these young lives being traumatized but how they got here to begin with.”