The U.S. Marshals announced this week that they had located and rescued eight missing children in Indiana. The missing children recovered in “Operation Homecoming” were said to be “highly endangered.”
The 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, sex abuse, physical abuse and medical or mental health conditions,” according to the statement released by the U.S. Marshals Service, Southern District of Indiana.
The missing children, who were between the ages of 6 and 17, were rescued and handed over to the Indiana Department of Child Services.
During the five-day Operation Homecoming in the Indianapolis area, one adult was arrested and faces charges related to parental kidnapping, intimidation, weapons possession, and custodial interference, the United States Marshals Service stated.
Operation Homecoming took place from Aug. 31 to Sept. 4, but involved several months of planning and coordination between multiple agencies. The agencies involved in the operation include the U.S. Marshals Service Missing Child Unit, U.S. Marshals Service Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
“The Marshals are committed to assisting state and local agencies with locating and recovering endangered missing children to help prevent their falling victim to crimes of violence and exploitation,” said Dan McClain, U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of Indiana. “The message that we wish to convey to the missing children and their families is that we will use every resource at our disposal to find you.”
Over the last two weeks, the U.S. Marshals have announced the rescue of 72 missing children.
Last month, U.S. Marshals located 39 missing children in Georgia and Florida during “Operation Not Forgotten.” Authorities said the children ranged in age from 3 to 17 years old. The U.S. Marshals Service said that 15 of the children were victims of sex trafficking, according to WAGA-TV.
There were 26 warrants cleared during the two-week operation, including “19 arrest warrants for a total of nine individuals arrested, some of whom had multiple warrants,” according to the U.S. Marshals.
In late August, U.S. Marshals announced that they had tracked down 25 missing and endangered children from Ohio during Operation Safety Net. The missing children were between the ages of 13 and 18, and were located in Cleveland, Euclid, Willoughby, and as far away as Miami, Florida.
U.S. Marshals said that a quarter of the endangered children were victims of human trafficking and prostitution.
“These are kids that have been abused, neglected. Some involved in human trafficking,” U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott told WOIO-TV. “Sometimes the situations they — they go to, believe it or not, may be better than the situations they left from. We’ve had some cases where the mother and or father, or both, may have been prostituting their own child.”
“We’re trying to do our part. A number of these children have gone to the hospital after we’ve recovered them to get checked out, so again this is something we take very seriously,” Elliott added. “I’ll tell you this, it will be something we’ll be doing every year. This is our first time we have done this, it’s been uncharted territory for us, but we’ve had great success.”
There were 421,394 entries for missing children in 2019, according to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center. The U.S. Marshals helped recover 295 missing children in 2019, and more than 1,800 since teaming up with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in 2005.