16 missing children found in U.S. Marshals operation

The U.S. Marshals Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force worked with other agencies to help recover 16 missing children ranging in age from 4 to 17.

From April 8 to the 19, the U.S. Marshals, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and metro Atlanta law enforcement officers recovered the children and arrested eight criminal associates, officials said. Officials said the operation was called Operation “Empty Nest”

Officials said the two-week initiative was several months of planning between the agencies. Officials said the children were considered to be some of the most at-risk cases because of high risk factors as sexual abuse, physical abuse, child sex trafficking and child exploitation.

“The Marshals are committed to assisting state and local agencies with locating and recovering endangered missing children to help prevent them from falling victim to crimes of violence and exploitation,” said SERFTF Commander James Joyner. “The message that we wish to convey to the missing children and their families is that we will find you.”

Officials said the operation led to filing nine additional charges and clearing seven arrest warrants.

Officers said Empty Nest is the first missing child operation by the task force in the United States.