New Orleans, LA – A U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) led two-month operation in the New Orleans, Louisiana metro area has resulted in the rescue or recovery of 11 children.
Sponsored and funded by the agency's Missing Child Unit (MCU), Operation Summer Rescue 2020 ran from Aug.1 to Sept. 30 and focused on missing and endangered runaways.
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. Another involved a 13-year old female rescued in Nashville, Tennessee with the assistance of the U.S. Marshals Service Middle District of Tennessee Task Force, Metro Nashville Police Department, and the FBI New Orleans Field Office.
During the two-month operation several arrests were made during the children's recoveries, to include an adult male who was arrested for Aggravated Statutory Rape.
New Orleans was one of the original U.S. cities to begin a U.S. Marshals Service pilot program for the Missing Child Unit in 2016, and U.S. Marshals Service deputies in New Orleans have provided instruction to other U.S. Marshals Service districts and state agencies about how to coordinate their Missing Child Unit operations, which have gained national news attention this year.
The 2016 New Orleans Missing Child Unit 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 U.S. Marshals Service 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 resulted in the arrest of the recovered children's mother. 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. U.S. Marshals Service 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 U.S. Marshals Service 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 U.S. Marshals Service established its Missing Child Unit to oversee and manage the implementation of its enhanced authority under the act.
In 2019, the U.S. Marshals Service 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 U.S. Marshals Service receiving the request for assistance. Since 2005, the U.S. Marshals Service has recovered more than 1,800 missing children.
"This is a very important mission that the U.S. Marshals Service 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."
Participants in Operation Summer Rescue:
- U.S. Marshals Service New Orleans Task Force
- Louisiana State Police
- New Orleans Police Department
- Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office
- St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office
- St. John Parish Sheriff's Office
- Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office
- FBI New Orleans Field Office
- Louisiana Department of Child and Family Services
Any information about missing/endangered children should be reported to your local police department and or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-The-Lost.
Information about violent fugitives can be provided to the U.S. Marshals Service at(504) 589-6872, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or with the USMS tips app. Crime stoppers of Greater New Orleans (GNO) may also be contacted with tips at (504) 822-1111.