39 Children Rescued in Major Child Sex Trafficking Bust, Multiple Arrests Made
US Marshals announce missing kids found in Georgia during 'Operation Not Forgotten'
39 children have been rescued during a major child sex trafficking bust in Georgia, with multiple arrests made in a series of raids.
Dozens of kids are now safe again, with nine people behind bars after an anti-sex trafficking operation by federal and state officials.
In a Thursday press conference, the U.S. Marshals Service announced the results of "Operation Not Forgotten."
The operation was conducted in August in Atlanta and Macon and successfully tracked down 39 missing children across the state.
The raids also led to the arrest of nine "criminal associates."
As a direct result of the investigation, the suspects are facing several charges including sex trafficking, parental kidnapping, custodial interference, and registered sex offender violence.
"The message to missing children and their families is that we will never stop looking for you," Director of the Marshals Service Donald Washington said in a press release Thursday.
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr praised the rescue effort saying: "I cannot say enough about Operation Not Forgotten and the men and women behind it.
"39 – That’s how many young lives are getting a new start, and that’s how we measure success."
The intensive rescue was conducted by the US Marshals Service Missing Child Unit, the agency’s Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), and Georgia state and local agencies.
Officials said the missing children were "considered to be some of the most at-risk and 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."
USMS investigators were able to confirm each child’s location in person and assure their safety and welfare.
The US Marshalls released video and photographs showing the effort to locate and rescue the missing children in the weeks-long operation.
It shows workers flipping through binders with the images of missing children and their information and police officers in bullet vests entering homes.
One video shows an officer reassuring a rescued child in a car saying, "We’re going to get you something to drink."
Another scene shows three officers comforting a rescued child and bringing her into a car.
Overall in 2019 the USMS helped recover 295 missing children based on requests for help from law enforcement.
"When we track down fugitives, it’s a good feeling to know that we're putting the bad guy behind bars," Darby Kirby, Chief of the Missing Child Unit, said.
"But that sense of accomplishment is nothing compared to finding a missing child.
"It's hard to put into words what we feel when we rescue a missing child, but I can tell you that this operation has impacted every single one of us out here," he added.
"We are working to protect them and get them the help they need."