NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — For the past four months the New Orleans Task Force “Summer Knights” operation led by the U.S. Marshals Service Eastern District of Louisiana, has successfully recovered 14 missing or endangered children across the state.

The operation ran from April 30 through August 31, and ended in the arrest of eight people and the locating of one extra child, according to marshals. New Orleans and Orlando were the first cities to pilot the program starting in 2016 for the Missing Child Unit and with coordination from state and local agencies, the program continues.

Assistance in the ‘Summer Knights” program included:

  • U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) New Orleans Task Force
  • New Orleans Police Department
  • Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office
  • St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office
  • Homeland Security (HSI) New Orleans Field Office
  • Louisiana Department of Child and Family Services
  • National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)
  • Crimestoppers GNO

Listed are some of the program’s highlights:

  • 06/23 – arrest and recovery of a 16-year-old male runaway for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office who was also wanted by the NOPD on a March 2021 felony warrant for 14 counts of Vehicle Burglary in uptown New Orleans. The teen attempted to flee on foot on to Interstate I-10 from the back of a residence but was arrested/recovered without incident. He had run away from a facility in Jefferson Parish in February 2021 and since that time is believed to be linked to multiple felony criminal activity incidents involving firearms across the metro area. During the investigation, an adult associate of the runaway rammed a USMS enforcement vehicle in New Orleans East and fled later striking a New Orleans RTA Bus before being apprehended after a foot pursuit.
  • 07/02 – recovery of a 17-year-old male kidnapped from a residence in Jefferson Parish who was being held for ransom with threats to do the teen harm. Prior to the arrests of three suspects, they fled from law enforcement with the victim in a vehicle, ultimately being stopped on the Causeway Bridge where the teen was safely recovered. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and USMS New Orleans Task Force participated in this recovery.
  • 07/12 – recovery of a 13-year-old female for the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office. The teen had run away on 07/10/2022 and was believed to be in contact with an 18-year-old male she met on social media. The teen was recovered in Denham Springs, LA.
  • 07/26 – recovery of two 12-year-old females for the New Orleans Police Department who had runway together weeks earlier and were known to be in the company of adult males, possibly planning on leaving the state. Both teens were recovered at a residence in the 2000 block of South Salcedo St. New Orleans by the New Orleans Police Department, HSI, and USMS New Orleans Task Force; an adult male was arrested after the recoveries for Contributing to the Delinquency of Juveniles and Performing Sexually Immoral Act.
  • 08/24 – recovery of a 15-year-old female for the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. The teen, who claimed to be pregnant and planning on relocating to Texas, was recovered walking on Canal Street with an adult male. The recovery was made by the New Orleans Police Department, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, and the USMS New Orleans Task Force.

U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Enix Smith, released a statement on the program:

“I am very proud of the results of Operation Summer Knights and the profound impact it has had on protecting one of the most vulnerable groups in our community. This work could not be accomplished without the support of our federal, state, and local partners agencies involved in safeguarding at-risk children. The U.S. Marshals Service is proud to be a part of a robust MCU program founded on law enforcement teamwork that took root in New Orleans starting in 2016.”

Information about missing/endangered children should be reported to police or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-The-Lost and information on violent fugitives can be reported to U.S. Marshals Service at (504) 589-687 or Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111.