U.S. Marshals Recover 16 Critically Missing Children

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Philadelphia, PA
– During a four-week operation conducted
February 15 – March 15, the U.S. Marshals Service Offices in
Philadelphia, in conjunction with Philadelphia’s Department of Human
Services and Bucks County Children Youth Services, participated in
operation “Safeguard,” a multi-agency enforcement operation focused on
human trafficking and the location and recovery of critically missing
and exploited children.

During the operation, 26 missing children cases
were adopted by the Marshals Service with six of those children having a
nexus to child sex trafficking. Over a four-week period, 16 children
were recovered at the request of law enforcement to ensure the child’s
well-being. Four of the 16 children recovered have active child sex
trafficking investigations. The operation was supported by the National
Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and other local

These 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.

The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of
2015 enhanced the U.S. Marshals’ authority to assist federal, state, and
local law enforcement with the recovery of missing, endangered, or
abducted children, regardless of whether a fugitive or sex offender was
involved. The Marshals established a Missing Child Unit to oversee and
manage the implementation of its enhanced authority under the act.

Over the past five years, the USMS has recovered missing children in
75% of the cases it has received. And of those recovered, 72% were
recovered within seven days. Since 2015, the USMS has recovered more
than 1,700 missing children.

The U.S. Marshals Eastern District
of Pennsylvania Fugitive Task Force is composed of a team of law
enforcement officers led by Deputy U.S. Marshals in Philadelphia and its
surrounding counties.

“I applaud the exceptional cooperation
among our respective agencies in combating this most abhorrent affront
to society,” said Eric Gartner, U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of
Pennsylvania. “Our hope is for a better future for the 16 children we
recovered; our resolve remains steadfast in finding other children in

This initiative was the culmination of weeks of
planning and coordination between the USMS, NCMEC, Philadelphia
Department of Human Services, Bucks County Children Youth Services,
Philadelphia Police Department Human Trafficking Unit, and the FBI.

Additional information about the U.S. Marshals Service can be found
at http://www.usmarshals.gov.


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