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U.S. Marshals Find 200 Missing Children Across the Nation During ‘Operation We Will Find You 2’

Washington, DC – The U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), along with federal, state, and local agencies in seven federal judicial districts and geographical locations across the U.S., led a six-week national operation that resulted in finding 200 critically missing children, which includes endangered runaways and those abducted by noncustodial persons.

Operation We Will Find You 2 (OWWFY2), the second-of-its-kind nationwide missing child operation, was conducted from May 20 to June 24 and focused on geographical areas with high clusters of critically missing children.  Children who go missing may be in serious danger and can be vulnerable to child sex trafficking, abuse, exploitation, and other crimes against children.

With technical assistance from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), Operation We Will Find You 2resulted in the recovery and removal of 123 children from dangerous situations.  An additional 77 missing children were located and found to be in safe locations, according to law enforcement or child welfare agencies. Of the 200 children found, 173 were endangered runaways, 25 were considered otherwise missing, 1 was a family abduction and 1 was a non-family abduction. The youngest child recovered was 5 months old. 14 of the children were found outside the city where they went missing. Additionally, of the missing children recovered, 57 percent were recovered within seven days of the USMS assisting with the case. 

“There are no words to describe the terror felt by missing children, their families, and their communities,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “I am grateful to the dedicated professionals of the U.S. Marshals Service and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children who worked to find 200 critically missing children during this six-week operation, and who work every day to keep children safe.”

“One of the most sacred missions of U.S. Marshals Service, is locating and recovering our nation’s critically missing children,” said U.S. Marshals Service Director Ronald L. Davis. “This is one of our top priorities as there remain thousands of children still missing and at risk.”

“Operation We Will Find You is a shining example of the results we can achieve when we unite in our mission to find missing children,” said Michelle DeLaune, President and CEO of NCMEC. “We are grateful that vulnerable children have been recovered as part of this operation, and we commend the U.S. Marshals Service and all the agencies involved for their commitment to protect youth and ensure these children are not forgotten. Behind every statistic, there is a child who deserves to grow up safe from harm.”

The operation was conducted from the following locations: District of Arizona (Phoenix, Glendale, Goodyear, Tucson, South Tucson, and Pima counties); Eastern District of California (San Joaquin County, Stockton, and Sacramento County); Southern District of Florida (Broward, St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties); Western District of Michigan (Kent, Lake, Ingham, Ottawa, counties); Eastern District of North Carolina (New Hanover, Brunswick, Harnett, Onslow, Pitt, Wake, Johnston, Robeson, Cumberland, Sampson, Nash, and Pender counties); The Southern and Eastern districts of New York (New York City); and the District of Oregon (Multnomah, Washington, and Deschutes counties, as well as Portland and Eugene, and the Warm Springs Reservation). 

The goal of OWWFY2 was to highlight partnerships amongst government and non-government agencies to develop a multi-disciplinary team whose focus was to pull together resources to find critically missing children and to bring more attention to the epidemic of missing children in America.  During the operation, the USMS worked with their respective Federal, State, and Local law enforcement partners, NCMEC, the Department of Children and Family Services, and other agencies to safely find missing children at risk of endangerment. These missing children were considered some of the most 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. In addition, other children who had been reported missing were located at the request of law enforcement to ensure they were safe and to confirm the child’s location. 

The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 enhanced the U.S. Marshals’ authority to assist law enforcement with recovering endangered missing children, regardless of whether a fugitive or sex offender was involved. The USMS established a Missing Child Unit to oversee and manage the implementation of its enhanced authority under the act. Members of the USMS Sex Offender Investigations Branch, the Behavioral Analysis Unit, and the Missing Child Unit began training personnel in the participating locations months before the operation to ensure that case selection, vetting, and all pre-operational requirements were met.


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