U.S. Marshals Locate 200 ‘Critically Missing’ Children in ‘Operation We Will Find You 2’

A nationwide effort led by the U.S. Marshals Service in partnership with multiple agencies has recovered 200 of what the Marshals Service called “critically missing” children.

“Operation We Will Find You 2,” the agency’s second nationwide missing child effort, took place from May 20 to June 24 in regions across the United States where high numbers of children go missing, according to a Department of Justice news release on Monday.

Supported by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the operation removed 123 children from dangerous situations and another 77 from safe locations.

The Marshals Service said 173 of the missing children were endangered runaways, 25 were otherwise missing, one was a family-related abduction and one was an abduction not connected with a family.

The youngest missing child recovered was 5 months old, the Marshals Service said, noting that only 14 of the 200 children recovered had been taken outside the city where they were reported missing.


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“One of the most sacred missions of U.S. Marshals Service is locating and recovering our nation’s critically missing children,” Marshals Service Director Ronald L. Davis said in a statement. “This is one of our top priorities as there remain thousands of children still missing and at risk.”

The DOJ news release said the operation was conducted in parts of Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, New York and Oregon.

“The Marshals are renowned for being the premier fugitive hunters, but this was a mission to recover the most vulnerable members of our communities,” acting U.S. Marshal Van Bayless said in a statement, according to The Arizona Republic.

“Together with our partner agencies, we located and recovered dozens of Arizona children who were victims of abuse, forced addictions, and sex trafficking,” Bayless said. “This operation highlights the need to intensify our efforts in order to locate more victims and to bring their captors to justice.”

Davis said the operation was a chance for children who fled abuse to have a new lease on life.

“Whenever an environment causes them to run away, I think at least we have a second chance of addressing those issues if we can locate them and bring them into a safe environment, get them services and this is how we can make sure that that child can [live] a productive life and not continue to be either victimized or exposed to victimization,” he said.

“There is an epidemic of missing children in the United States,” Vincent DeMarco, U.S. marshal for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement, according to the New York Post.


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“Missing children must be reported and found quickly because they are vulnerable to sex trafficking, exploitation and can suffer unimaginable harm. I am very proud of the results of this operation and the impact it will have on the children’s lives,” DeMarco said.

The DOJ news release highlighted some of the cases from Operation We Will Find You 2, including one from Michigan in which a 16-year-old girl was rescued from a situation in Hammond, Indiana, in which the 30-year-old man holding her tried to jump out a window to flee but was caught by a law enforcement K-9.

In a case from Arizona, a 16-year-old girl ran away from a group home in Phoenix. The girl was tracked to Los Angeles, where her suspected sex trafficker was killed. She was then traced to Miami and ultimately found in a Flint, Michigan, hotel.

In a North Carolina case, the Raleigh Police Department asked for help to find a 1-year-old whose mother had a previous conviction for killing one of her children. The child was safely recovered and the child’s mother was arrested.

The Marshals Service said it has recovered more than 2,000 missing children since 2005.

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