U.S. Marshals recover 11 children in New Orleans in ‘Operation Summer Rescue’

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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WDSU) — The U.S. Marshals announced Wednesday that it recovered 11 children in a two-month rescue operation in New Orleans.

The operation was sponsored and funded by the agency’s Missing Child Unit.

Operation Summer Rescue 2020 ran from Aug. 1 to Sept. 30 and focused on missing and endangered runaways, according to the U.S. Marshals.

One of the recoveries, a 16-year old runaway juvenile male, was believed to be involved in illegal gang activity in New Orleans involving firearms, according to the U.S. Marshals.

Another recovery involved a 13-year old female rescued in Nashville, Tennessee, with the assistance of the USMS Middle District of Tennessee Task Force, Metro Nashville Police Department, and the FBI New Orleans Field Office, according to a news release issued by the U.S. Marshals.

During the two-month operation, U.S. Marshals say that several arrests were made during the children’s recoveries, to include an adult male who was arrested for aggravated statutory rape.

According to the report, New Orleans was one of the original U.S. cities to begin a USMS pilot program for the Missing Child Unit in 2016, and U.S. Marshals Service deputies in New Orleans have provided instruction to other USMS districts and state agencies about how to coordinate their MCU operations, which have gained national news attention this year.

The 2016 New Orleans MCU pilot program led to the recovery of multiple at-risk children and the arrests of several adult suspects for human sex trafficking of teens. One of the cases was featured on local New Orleans metro area news outlets and resulted in the recovery of two at-risk teens and a baby at a local hotel on St. Charles Avenue.

During fiscal year 2020, the USMS New Orleans Task Force recovered or contributed in the recovery of an additional nine missing/endangered children, with one arrest/recovery in Lafourche Parish resulting in the seizure of a stolen AR-15 rifle and narcotics; and the recovery of a missing pregnant teen and the recovery/arrest of her boyfriend who was an escapee from the Orleans Parish Juvenile Justice Center.

Another recovery of two children in New Orleans East in March 2020 resulted in the arrest of the recovered children’s mother, according to the news release.

During the 2020 operations, the U.S. Marshals say she was wanted on a first-degree murder warrant out of Laurel, Mississippi, for the killing of her 11-year-old son at a hotel in Laurel. USMS New Orleans Task Force recovered the woman’s sons, 6 and 9, sitting in a vehicle in New Orleans East. The children were considered in extreme danger, and an Amber Alert had been issued.

The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 enhanced USMS authority to assist federal, state and local law enforcement with the recovery of missing, endangered or abducted children, regardless of whether a fugitive or sex offender was involved. The USMS established its Missing Child Unit to oversee and manage the implementation of its enhanced authority under the act.

In 2019, the USMS helped recover 295 missing children based on requests for assistance from law enforcement and has contributed to the recovery of a missing child in 75% of cases received. Additionally, 66% of the recoveries were made within seven days of the USMS receiving the request for assistance.

Since 2005, the USMS has recovered more than 1,800 missing children.

“This is a very important mission that the USMS has been tasked by Congress to oversee, as the safety of children across the country is paramount to this nation’s future,” said U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Louisiana Scott Illing. “While 11 recoveries may not seem high, this work, which is time consuming, was accomplished while also running our normal day-to-day violent felony offender investigations and sex offender fugitive operations in the district, along with our other judicial missions.”

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