US Marshals Rescued a Record 387 Missing Children in 2020, Top Official Says
'The most we’ve ever recovered, almost 100 more than the previous year'
387 missing children have been recovered by the U.S. Marshals Service in 2020, according to a top official within the agency.
Chief Inspector Floriano Whitwell, who leads the U.S. Marshals’ sex offender investigations, said:
“Last year, we recovered 387 missing children, and that was the most we’ve ever recovered, almost 100 more than the previous year."
“But I would also emphasize that, in my opinion, we’re barely scratching the surface.”
The number of reported missing children was 421,394 in 2019, the FBI reported.
That number decreased to 365,348 in 2020, with the majority considered “endangered runaways.”
“I personally was extremely concerned by the lack of spotlight, the lack of resources, and just simply the lack of children being recovered across our country, knowing now how big of an epidemic it was,” Whitwell said.
“And so I decided to make that my focus.”
The U.S. Marshals Service has carried out a number of operations in states including Oklahoma, Iowa, Ohio, Louisiana, Virginia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.
Operation Volunteer Strong in Tennessee yielded its largest recovery of children—150—last year.
“Many people don’t realize this, but hundreds of children go missing in our state every month,” Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch said in a statement in early March.
“From runaways that may leave their home out of desperation or despair, to those entangled in a custody battle, every single one of them deserves a fighting chance, and that’s why they also deserve our best work to help them.”
And recently, 21 missing children were rescued in Iowa by the agency as part of Operation Homecoming.
Neon Nettle reported that the rescued kids were aged from 3 to 17 years old.
Investigations confirmed the children rescued during the raids were human trafficking victims.
"Some of the most at-risk and challenging recovery cases in the area, based on indications of high-risk factors such as exposure to narcotics, child exploitation, physical or sexual abuse, and medical or mental health conditions.”
Director of the U.S. Marshals, Donald Washington, said that about 1,300 missing children had been found since the 2016 fiscal year.
“There are a lot of them in the country at any given time,” he said in a Fox News interview.
“For example, today I looked at the number, and we have 21,000 active missing persons under 18 cases open today. So there are a lot of them.”
Some missing children “may be in the middle of gang affiliations or in the midst of drug abusers,” Washington noted.