The US Marshals Service recovered 16 missing children — including four suspected to be victims of child sex trafficking — in a series of raids and other actions over the last month, most in or around the Philadelphia region.
The Marshals Service announced the results of Operation Safeguard, a multiagency effort to recover endangered children, on Thursday. Ten other children marshals were seeking remain at large, including two children in active child sex trafficking investigations.
“I applaud the exceptional cooperation among our respective agencies in combating this most abhorrent affront to society,” said Eric Gartner, US 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 peril.”
The operation ran from Feb. 15 to March 15. Marshals selected each case for the operation based on “high-risk factors” like child exploitation and sex trafficking, sexual abuse, physical abuse, or medical and mental health conditions.
The operation was a collaboration of the USMS, Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and Bucks County Children Youth Social Services.
The USMS Missing Child Unit was established in 2015 to assist local agencies in high-profile missing child cases. Since its launch, the unit has helped recover 1,788 children. As of March 19, they have recovered 450 children this year so far.