The U.S. Marshals Service Missing Child Unit rescued 39 missing children and teenagers in the Atlanta and Macon areas in Georgia while clearing dozens of arrest warrants during “Operation Not Forgotten.”
Federal officials said in a news release the operation resulted in the rescue of 26 children, the safe location of 13 children and the arrest of nine suspects.
Investigators also cleared 26 arrest warrants and filed additional charges for alleged sex trafficking, parental kidnapping, registered sex offender violations, drugs and weapons possession, and custodial interference.
“The U.S. Marshals Service is fully committed to assisting federal, state, and local agencies with locating and recovering endangered missing children, in addition to their primary fugitive apprehension mission,” said Director of the Marshals Service Donald Washington.
“The message to missing children and their families is that we will never stop looking for you.”
Officials said the missing children were considered to be some of the “most at-risk and challenging recovery cases in the area.”
This was based on indications of high-risk factors like victimization of child sex trafficking, child exploitation, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and medical or mental health conditions, officials said.
“When we track down fugitives, it’s a good feeling to know that we’re putting the bad guy behind bars. But that sense of accomplishment is nothing compared to finding a missing child,” said Darby Kirby, Chief of the Missing Child Unit.
“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. We are working to protect them and get them the help they need.”