U.S. Marshals rescued 16 missing children in New Orleans, Louisiana, in a months-long operation dubbed “Fresh Start” that included sex trafficking allegations. Five people were also arrested during the mission.
According to a press release, the U.S. Marshals Service Eastern District of Louisiana New Orleans Task Force led the Missing Child Unit operation from Jan. 1 to March 31 that “uncovered allegations of human sex trafficking in several of the cases.”
Among those recovered were a 1-year old boy, a 5-year-old girl, a 7-year-old boy, and a 15-year-old girl who has Schizophrenia and managed to wrestle free from restraints before jumping out of an ambulance.
A runaway 14-year-old girl was also found in Fayetteville, Georgia during the operation.
“The teen had run away from New Orleans in January of 2022 and family were concerned about her possible involvement in sex trafficking and believed that she was with an older male in Florida,” the released stated. “USMS investigation shows the teen may have also traveled to the Jacksonville, Florida area as well before being located in Georgia.”
“I am very proud of the cooperative work done by all the agencies involved in safeguarding at risk children. Our Office is proud to be a part of a robust MCU program that took root in New Orleans starting in 2016,” U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Louisiana Scott Illing said in a statement. “This work is being done with our partners while our office still performs its critical USMS missions (judicial and witness security, managing federal prisoners, violent fugitives’ apprehension, sex offender investigations, and service of federal process).”
The operation included over a dozen law enforcement partners, including: New Orleans Police Department; Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office; St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office; Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office; West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office; Addis, Louisiana Police Department; Xavier University Police Department; Louisiana State Police; Fayette County, Georgia Sheriff’s Office; New York Police Department (NYPD); Broward County, Florida Sheriff’s Office; Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) New Orleans Field Office; Homeland Security (HSI) New Orleans Field Office; Louisiana Department of Child and Family Services; Georgia Department of Children and Family Services; Florida Department of Children and Family Services; National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC); and Crimestoppers GNO.
The U.S. Marshals Service called on the public to report any information about missing or endangered children to local police departments or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which can be reached at 1-800-The-Lost.