Federal and federal law enforcement agencies found 39 missing children and arrested nine people through Operation Unforgettable, an initiative to save children at risk.
The American Marshals and a number of agencies announced unforgettable results of the operation. “We have recovered 26 missing and endangered children, and we located 13 others safely,” said Donald Washington, director of the US Marshals Service.
They found a total of 39 children between the ages of 3 and 17 who went missing anywhere from two weeks to two years. Fifteen of the children are involved in sex trafficking.
Authorities also arrested nine people during the two-week operation in Atlanta and Macon, Georgia. Moreover, they allege that they acquitted 26 arrest warrants and filed additional charges:
Moradio Amos Pandeli – arrested in Port St. Lucy, Florida – Rape warrant from Conyers, Georgia
Triun Moore – arrested in DeKalb County, Georgia – warrants to stop sex trafficking and abuse surveillance
James Garcia – arrested in a hotel in Clearwater, Florida – orders for child aggravated molestation, sodomy and incest with a minor outside Whitefield County, Georgia
Faye Smith – arrested at a hotel in Clearwater, Florida – warrant for breach of surveillance
Sally Garcia – arrested in a hotel in Clearwater, Florida – interfering with child custody
Zachary Bailey – Detained in Columbus, Georgia – Trafficking in persons, solicitation of a minor for inappropriate purposes, and luring of a minor to solicit proposals
Stanson Causey – arrested in Jasper, GA – a registered sex offender arrested for violating surveillance
Kirk Waters – arrested in Newton County, Georgia – Philon is in possession of a firearm
Trifonte Sheriff – arrested in Newton County, Georgia – custody intervention and obstruction
Washington said, then provided the following FBI statistics: “These are not my children, these are not your children, but they are in fact ours.”
A child is kidnapped every 40 seconds in the United States
More than 421,000 children are currently missing
91% consider Harbin to be endangered
Officials say a large percentage of the missing children are also linked to sex trafficking. “Here in Atlanta, nearly 300 young girls are lured into sex trafficking every month,” Washington said.
“To tackle [sex trafficking], it takes agents, foot soldiers, and public prosecutors willing to take the fight to the enemy,” said John Melvin, assistant director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Georgia Attorney General Christopher Carr added, “I always go back to the fact that if we were able to save one child from a life of abuse or sex trafficking, we would have done our job.”
Medical experts say finding babies is just the beginning. “It’s really important for these children that once they recover, we can begin the healing process,” said Dr. Stephen Meissner, medical director of Children’s Care in Atlanta.
Operation Unforgettable is over, but officials say efforts to save children and bring criminals to justice will continue.