The US Marshals Service Missing Child Unit, in collaboration with Georgia authorities, managed to rescue 26 children and discover the safe location of 13 more in the state, according to CBS News.
The agencies began the operation in Atlanta and Macon two weeks ago and found children between the ages of three and 17, according to USA Today.
In a press release on Thursday, the USMS said the 26 “missing children were considered to be some of the most at-risk and challenging recovery cases in the area.”
The service added that their level of risk was “based on indications of high-risk factors such as victimisation of child sex trafficking, child exploitation, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and medical or mental health conditions.”
The USMS also helped locate 13 other children as part of the operation, and the agency said: “Other children were located at the request of law enforcement to ensure their wellbeing.
“USMS investigators were able to confirm each child’s location in person and assure their safety and welfare.”
Nine people were arrested during the operation, and investigators filed charges, including sex trafficking, drugs and weapons possession, parental kidnapping and custodial interference, according to the service.
Darby Kirby, chief of the Missing Child Unit, said in a statement: “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.”
The chief added that the agency is “working to protect them and get them the help they need.”
In 2019, the USMS helped recover 295 children across the country, and aided in the safe return in 75 per cent of the cases, according to CBS.
Donald Washington, the director of the Marshals Service, said in a statement: “The message to missing children and their families is that we will never stop looking for you.”
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