The U.S. Marshals Service in Iowa announced that 21 missing children were located and seven children were recovered as part of Operation Homecoming.
According to the federal law enforcement agency, the children were between the ages of 4 and 17, and are “some of the most at-risk and challenging recovery cases in the area, based on indications of high-risk factors such as exposure to narcotics, child exploitation, physical or sexual abuse, and medical or mental health conditions.”
The missing Iowa children were located in nine other states, including Arizona, Nebraska, Minnesota, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana, the U.S. Marshals stated in a March 23 news release. Two people were arrested, illegal narcotics were seized, and two guns were recovered, officials said.
In one instance, “U.S. Marshals in Illinois recovered a missing 14-year-old from central Iowa after investigators discovered ads featuring the juvenile involved in sex trafficking,” the agency said. “The juvenile was recovered at a motel in the act of being trafficked.
“Another missing 17-year-old was taken from central Iowa and subjected to human trafficking in Mississippi and Tennessee. Marshals tracked her location to a home in Mississippi, where she was recovered and brought back to Iowa.”
The agency said it’s still looking for 15-year-old Fredrick Workman, who was last seen in Des Moines, Iowa, in 2013, and are offering a $5,000 reward for information that could lead to his whereabouts.
The U.S. Marshals also announced that 16 children considered critically missing were rescued during a four-week operation that ended earlier in March.
At least four of the children rescued during Operation Safeguard were connected to sex trafficking, the law enforcement agency stated in another news release.
“These missing children were considered to be some of the most at-risk and challenging recovery cases in the area, based on indications of high-risk factors such as victimization of child sex trafficking, child exploitation, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and medical or mental health conditions,” the agency said.
Eric Gartner, U.S. marshal for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, said: “Our hope is for a better future for the 16 children we recovered; our resolve remains steadfast in finding other children in peril.”
In October 2020, U.S. Marshals Director Donald Washington told Fox News that more than 1,300 missing children have been rescued since 2016.
“These are kids that are in particular danger as a result of either being victims of violent crime or because of who they are. For example, some of them may be in the middle of gang affiliations or in the midst of drug abusers or in the middle of some bad situations involving people who have violent tendencies and things of that sort,” he said.