The U.S. Marshals rescued 27 missing children in Virginia this week as part of ongoing nationwide operations to save exploited children.
The Department of Justice announced Friday that the five-day law enforcement effort called "Operation Find Our Children" has been completed. The operation took place throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia and led to the recovery of the 27 children.
Operation Find Our Children also confirmed the location of six other children who had been reported as missing but were in the custody of their legal guardian, the U.S. Marshals said.
"Led by deputy U.S. Marshals from the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia, along with members of the U.S. Marshals Service Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force and special agents, police officers and detectives from numerous federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, more than 60 law enforcement investigators formed the primary team in Operation Find Our Children," the federal agency said in a press release on Friday.
The primary team worked alongside dozens of Virginia Department of Social Services employees and medical professionals and experts from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
U.S. Marshals have recovered over 2,000 missing children since 2005, recovering children in 75% of the case it's received. Some 72% were recovered within seven days of being reported missing.
“The Department of Justice is dedicated to protecting the most vulnerable children in our society and ‘Operation Find Our Children’ does just that,” said Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen in a statement.
“While this Virginia operation is the most recent recovery of endangered and missing children led by the U.S. Marshals Service this year, we have also recovered more than 440 kids in Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, Louisiana, and other states. Because of this initiative, the recovered children are now out of harm’s way.”
Nick E. Proffitt, U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Virginia, said he could not think of anything more critical or satisfying for law enforcement officers than rescuing endangered children.
“This operation brought together a formidable team that was, and is, determined to come to the aid of our youth and bring to justice those among us that choose to prey on these vulnerable children. I am proud of the Deputy Marshals in the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia and their partners for the work they accomplished this week — and the results speak for themselves; these 27 children are safe once again."
"We want the missing children across this great nation to know the U.S. Marshals Service will never stop looking for you; we will find you.”
The Virginia rescue operation comes on the heels of "Operation Safety Net" in Ohio in which 25 children, ranging in age from 13 to 18, were rescued.
Additionally, the U.S. Marshals announced the ending of “Operation Homecoming” last month. Its officers in southern Indiana joined forces with the Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to rescue eight children.