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UPDATED: U.S. Marshals Found 39 Missing Children Through 'Operation Not Forgotten'

ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) - Local and federal law enforcement agencies have found 39 missing children and arrested nine people through Operation Not Forgotten, an initiative to rescue endangered children.

U.S. Marshals and a number of agencies announced the results of Operation Not Forgotten. "We recovered 26 missing and endangered children and we safely located an additional 13," said Donald Washington, the director of the U.S. Marshals Service.

They found a total of 39 children ranging in ages 3 to 17-years-old who were missing anywhere from a couple of weeks to two years. Fifteen of the children were involved in sex trafficking.

Authorities also arrested nine people during the two-week operation in Atlanta and Macon Georgia. Furthermore, they claim to have cleared 26 arrested warrants and filed additional charges:

  • Moradeyo Amos BandeleArrested in Port St Lucy, FL – Warrant for Rape from Conyers, GA
  • Trayon MooreArrested in Dekalb County, GA – Sex Trafficking and Probation Violation warrants
  • James GarciaArrested at a motel in Clearwater, FL  - Warrants for Aggravated Child Molestation, Aggravated Sodomy and Incest with a Minor out of Whitfield County, GA
  • Faye Smith – Arrested at a motel in Clearwater, FL – Warrant for Probation Violation
  • Sally GarciaArrested at a motel in Clearwater, FL – Interference with Child Custody
  • Zachary Bailey – Arrested in Columbus, GA – Human trafficking, Enticing of a Minor for Indecent Purposes, and Enticement of a Minor for Solicitation
  • Stanson Causey – Arrested in Jasper, GA – Registered Sex Offender  arrested for Probation Violation
  • Kirk Waters – Arrested in Newton County, GA – Felon in Possession of a Firearm
  • Trevonte Shareef – Arrested in Newton County, GA – Interference with Custody and Obstruction

"These are not my kids, these are not your kids, but actually they are our kids," said Washington, then providing the following FBI statistics:

  • A child is abducted every 40 seconds in the United States
  • There are over 421,000 children currently missing
  • 91% are considered endangered runaways

Officials say a large percentage of missing children are also tied to sex trafficking. "Here in Atlanta, approximately 300 young girls are lured into sex trafficking every month," Washington said.

"To address [sex trafficking], it requires agents, foot soldiers and prosecutors that are willing to take the fight to the enemy," said Georgia Bureau of Investigation Assistant Director John Melvin.

Georgia Attorney General Christopher Carr added, "I always go back to the fact that if we can save one child from a life of abuse or sex trafficking, we've done our job."

Medical experts say finding the children is just the beginning. "It's really important for these children that, once they've recovered, we can start the healing process," said Dr. Steven Messner, the medical director for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

Operation Not Forgotten has ended, but officials say the effort to rescue children and bring criminals to justice will continue.

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