Over the course of a 10-week national operation called ‘Operation We Will Find You,’ the US Marshals Service, along with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and state and local agencies, successfully located over 220 missing children across the United States. The operation aimed to address cases involving runaway children and those abducted by noncustodial individuals.
During the operation, a total of 225 missing children were recovered or safely located, with 169 children being recovered and 56 children located without harm. The US Marshals Service identified 28 cases that were handed over to law enforcement for further investigation, involving crimes such as drug offenses, weapons violations, sex trafficking, and sex offender violations. In over 40 cases, there were allegations of trafficking.
Data released from the operation reveals that the majority of the children (86%) were endangered runaways, while 9% were victims of family abductions, and 5% were classified as otherwise missing. Shockingly, the youngest child recovered was just six months old.
The operation extended beyond US borders, as 42 missing children were found outside the cities where they were reported missing, and an additional ten children were located in Mexico. Notably, the US Marshals apprehended a couple listed as ‘Top 15 Most Wanted’ who had fled to Mexico from Washington state with their five children.
Within the timeframe of March 1 to May 15, 2023, 13 missing children were located in Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County, and Riverside County.
‘Operation We Will Find You’ represents the first nationwide missing child operation targeting geographical areas with high concentrations of critically missing children. Authorities urge anyone with information about missing or endangered children to contact their local police department or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-The-Lost.