The working group rehabilitated children – some of whom are potential victims of human trafficking – on three scales across the country.
Situations of cured children vary widely, said Shelley Smitherman, assistant special agent of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), ranging from children who have left home during difficult situations, some of whom have been found with family members, who are not deprived of their liberty, to children “who engage in abuse or exploitation. “
A number of arrests called “Strong Volunteer Operations” were made during the operation, said U.S. Marshal of the Western Tennessee District Tyris Miller, without elaborating on how many people had been arrested.
Denny King, the U.S. Marshal for the Tennessee Middle East, said he could not imagine being a parent and having a missing child.
“We can’t give up,” King said. “We need the public, the media, our law enforcement partners and other children’s services departments so that we do not give up on these children.
“We do not know what damage could be done, but we know that those recovered during this operation are in a safe environment today.”
King noted that a child in his area had been missing for 460 days and had been located at the behest of local law enforcement.
Four children are potential victims of human trafficking, the TBI said in a statement. The fifth was identified as “a victim of human trafficking as a result of a still active investigation by the local law enforcement agency and the FBI in Mississippi.”
Smitherman explained that TBI analysts had collected intelligence files in the fall on 240 children they hoped could be found.
She said TBI, the U.S. Division of Marshals and Tennessee Children’s Services (DCS) tracked potential customers and sent operational teams in January to each of the three areas of Tennessee. Eight children have been found in other states. The operations begin on January 4 and end on February 26, the TBI said in a statement.
Of the 150 children, 93 are DCS children, most of them girls, said DCS Commissioner Jennifer Nichols.
“The number 150 itself is commendable, but even more exciting is the reality behind each of these 150 numbers, a child or young person whose life and future can change forever,” Nichols said. “The work is transformational. We can’t stop and there is nothing more useful.”
Children who were in the DCS system before disappearing will return to the care of the agency, which will also provide counseling services to other children.
Efforts to find the remaining 90 missing children continue, officials said.