The United States Marshals Service (USMS), with the help of state and local agencies, located 225 missing children during a 10-week operation in states across the nation, the agency said.
The multi-state operation, dubbed operation ‘We Will Find You,’ was a national effort to locate the missing children. According to a press release from the USMS, many of the children were runaways or abducted by noncustodial persons.
During the operation, officials recovered 169 children and safely located 56.
“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. “The results of this operation underscore that commitment, but also highlight the necessity of these critical efforts.
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Data released shows that 86% of the children were endangered runaways, 9% were family abductions, and 5% were considered otherwise missing.
The youngest child recovered was only six months old.
Forty-two children were found outside the city they went missing in, with ten of the children being found in Mexico. Thirteen of the missing children were located in California; in Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County, and Riverside County areas from March 1 to May 15, 2023, officials said.
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The US Marshals also arrested a ‘Top 15 Most Wanted’ couple who fled to Mexico from Washington state with their five children, who they also took into hiding.
According to US Marshals, ‘Operation We Will Find You’ is the first nationwide missing child operation focused on geographical areas with high clusters of critically missing children.
The agency shared that the children were “considered some of the most challenging recovery cases in the area, based on indications of high-risk factors such as victimization of child sex trafficking, child exploitation, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and medical or mental health conditions.”
The US Marshals handed 28 cases to law enforcement for further investigation into crimes that included drugs, weapons, sex trafficking and sex offender violations, according to a statement from the US Marshals. Law enforcement reported allegations of trafficking in over 40 of the cases.
“‘Operation We Will Find You’ is a great example of how the U.S. Marshals Service continues to prioritize child protection,” National Center for Missing and Exploited Children President & CEO Michelle DeLaune said.
Anyone with information about missing/endangered children should contact their local police department and/or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-The-Lost.