The Department of Justice announced on Friday that the U.S. Marshals had rescued 27 missing children in Virginia during "Operation Find Our Children." The mission lasted only five days, but was able to recover 27 missing kids throughout the state, and located six more children who were reported as missing but were found to be in the custody of their legal guardian.
The multi-agency effort involved more than 60 law enforcement investigators, including members from the U.S. Marshals from the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia, U.S. Marshals Service Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force, federal and state law enforcement agents, and local police departments.
There were also over 50 employees from the Virginia Department of Social Services, as well as a team of medical professionals and experts from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
"I can think of no more critical or satisfying mission for a law enforcement officer, than rescuing an endangered child," Nick E. Proffitt, U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Virginia, said. "This operation brought together a formidable team that was, and is, determined to come to the aid of our youth and bring to justice those among us that choose to prey on these vulnerable children."
"I am proud of the Deputy Marshals in the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia and their partners for the work they accomplished this week – and the results speak for themselves; these 27 children are safe once again," Proffitt continued. "I am deeply humbled and highly honored that our team in Eastern Virginia is a continuing part of this critical Marshals Service mission. We want the missing children across this great nation to know the U.S. Marshals Service will never stop looking for you, we will find you."
"The U.S. Marshals Service has a legendary history of finding fugitives and bringing them to justice," Thomas L. Foster, U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Virginia, said. "Because of this specialized skill set, finding missing children is a natural extension of the Marshal's mission."
"Although many of the 27 recoveries occurred in Virginia's larger population centers, seven occurred in the Western District of Virginia to include Roanoke and Abingdon," Foster added. "This operation brought missing and exploited children to a place of safety and those who made the decision to prey upon them to justice."
"The Department of Justice is dedicated to protecting the most vulnerable children in our society and 'Operation Find Our Children' does just that," Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen said. "While this Virginia operation is the most recent recovery of endangered and missing children led by the U.S. Marshals Service this year, we have also recovered more than 440 kids in Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, Louisiana and other states. Because of this initiative, the recovered children are now out of harm's way."
Last week, the United States Marshals Service announced the recovery of 45 missing and endangered children in Ohio and West Virginia during "Operation Autumn Hope." The operation also resulted in 179 arrests that were made by the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force.
On Oct. 1, the agency rescued 11 children in New Orleans, two of which were in "extreme danger."
On Sept. 21, U.S. Marshals announced that they had recovered 35 missing children during "Operation Safety Net" in Ohio.
On Sept. 17, U.S. Marshals Service completed "Operation Triple Beam," a 60-day mission to decrease violent gang crime in Oklahoma City. U.S. Marshals made 262 arrests, seized illegal firearms and narcotics, as well as located five missing children,
On Sept. 4, the U.S. Marshals Service said that they had rescued eight "highly endangered" missing children in Indiana during "Operation Homecoming."
On Aug. 27, U.S. Marshals found 39 missing children in Georgia and Florida during "Operation Not Forgotten." Authorities said the children were between the ages of 3 to 17. Of the 39 endangered children, 15 were victims of sex trafficking.