On Thursday, the U.S. Marshals Service confirmed 39 missing children from all over Georgia had been rescued. Law enforcement officers describe these as some of the state’s most challenging cases of recovery.
The Marshals Service partnered with state and local law enforcement in a two-week campaign called “Operation Not Forgotten,” to rescue 26 children and safely locate another 13.
The children ranged in age from 17 to just 3-years-old according to investigators.
The Marshals Service classified 15 of the children as being sex trafficking victims.
“I have children. I’m sure many of you do as well. These are not my kids, and these are not your kids, but actually, they are our kids when it’s all said and done,” said Donald Washington, director of the U.S. Marshals Service.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) August 28, 2020
Missing Child Unit was founded in 2016
USMS Director Donald Washington and Georgia law enforcement officials will announce the results of Operation Not Forgotten, an operation resulting in the location, rescue or recovery of 39 children, tomorrow 1pm EST at the USMS Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force Headquarters.
— U.S. Marshals (@USMarshalsHQ) August 26, 2020
Locating missing children represents a relatively new goal for the U.S. Marshals.
The 2015 Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act gave them the power to support law enforcement authorities in locating the missing children. After that, the U.S. Marshals Service Missing Child Unit was founded.
“We’re really good and what we do. You know, they’ve called us manhunters. Well, we’re not just man hunters anymore,” explained Darby Kirby, chief inspector of the U.S. Marshals Service Missing Child Unit. “We also help save and rescue children as well.”
More than 420,000 children are reportedly missing in the United States, according to the Marshals Service. Among those, around 91 percent are runaways thought to be in danger.
“There are times when we rescue children that don’t want to be rescued, but when you understand the background and where they’ve come from–growing up in broken homes and you really understand that it’s heroic work,” said Kirby.
Multiple arrests made
The law enforcement officers arrested nine individuals as part of “Operation Not Forgotten,” including Zachary Bailey, Stanson Causey, Trevontae Shareef, and Kirk Water.
Stanson Causey had been arrested on suspicion of probation violations.
Shareef faces allegations of custody intervention and willful obstruction of law enforcement.
Water was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation assisted in the investigation.
“We will never stop looking for you. That’s [the] message,” said Director Washington. “There is no more meaningful work that law enforcement does than rescuing children. Our children are not for sale, and they are not ever forgotten.”