In a massive success for the federal law-enforcement agency – US Marshals – 39 children, including some who disappeared several months ago, have been found in the state of Georgia. 26 of these children were known to be missing while 13 others were found with them. They were in danger of falling victims to the monstrous business of human trafficking.

Their recovery was facilitated by an operation that involved not just US Marshals but also local authorities such as Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, office of Georgia's Attorney General, and other state-level departments dealing with children's welfare.

US Marshals
US Marshals in action Shane T. McCoy / US Marshals

The Marshals also received assistance from the FBI and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in what was called the 'Operation Not Forgotten.' Nine suspects have been rounded up. It is likely that they would be convicted on charges related to human trafficking and sexual exploitation. In all, these nine people will be facing 26 charges.

Task of saving children

"The message to missing children and their families is that we will never stop looking for you," director of the US Marshals Service said in an official statement. The head of the Missing Child Unit went further: "When we track down fugitives, it's a good feeling to know that we're putting the bad guy behind bars. But that sense of accomplishment is nothing compared to finding a missing child."

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US Marshals with one of the rescued children Shane T. McCoy / US Marshals

Human trafficking has emerged as a serious problem in the United States. Those victims who are unfortunate enough to fall in the trap of people involved in this criminal activity usually end up becoming victims of sexual offenses but some also fall prey to what is described as modern-day slavery.

Legal aids

To prevent such acts from taking place and punishing those who perpetrate it, in 2015, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act was brought in to allow the Marshals Service to play a bigger role in tracking down missing children. This act made cooperation between them and the state agencies easier.

Since then, the Marshals have done a great job in finding missing children and saving them from a hellish life of slavery and exploitation. Last year itself, the federal agents recovered around 300 children who had gone missing. In Georgia alone, there were 417 cases of human trafficking in 2019 while in the neighboring state of Florida, the number was more than double, 896.