The United States Marshals Service (USMS), with the help of state and local agencies, located 225 endangered missing children during a 10-week operation in states across the nation, the agency said.
Operation We Will Find You is a nationwide effort to locate missing children, according to a USMS press release. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children supported the recovery of 169 children and the safe location of 56 children.
The USMS said it referred 28 cases to law enforcement due to suspected criminal activity, including drugs and weapons, sex trafficking and sex offender violations.
“The U.S. Marshals Service is fully committed to the important mission of protecting the American people, especially our most vulnerable population – our children,” Ronald Davis, Director of the Marshals Service, said in a statement. “The results of this operation underscore that commitment, but also highlight the necessity of these critical efforts. Our continued success can only be achieved through our collaboration with state and local law enforcement agencies, and partnership with NCMEC. Together, the USMS and NCMEC have recovered over 3,100 missing children since the passage of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act in 2015.”
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The operation was held in Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Louisiana, Texas, Michigan, Washington, Florida, California, Ohio, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Ten of the children located were found in Mexico, the USMS said.
“Operation We Will Find You is a great example of how the U.S. Marshals Service continues to prioritize child protection,” said NCMEC President & CEO Michelle DeLaune. “NCMEC is proud of our long-standing partnership with the USMS and commends them and the participating state and local agencies who helped recover the 225 endangered missing children.”
The USMS said the missing children located during Operation We Will Find You involved “high-risk factors” including victimization of child sex trafficking, child exploitation, sexual abuse, physical abuse and medical or mental health conditions.