MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG/WKRN) — A total of 13 missing children from Shelby County were found following a two-day joint operation to help stop human trafficking.
According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), intelligence analysts identified minors who were considered high-risk in regard to human trafficking in the weeks leading up to “Operation Not For Sale.”
On Thursday, Nov. 2 and Friday, Nov. 3, officials said six teams from multiple agencies — including the U.S. Marshals Service, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Memphis Police Department, and the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (DCS) — searched 56 locations in the Memphis area.
Authorities said 12 at-risk juveniles ranging from 11 to 17 years old were found and are now safe. In addition, a two-month-old infant was reportedly located in another case during the operation.
“Every day the United States Marshals Service hopes we have the opportunity to utilize our authority in finding missing, endangered, or abducted children in our country. This operation, in which our efforts continue, has already shown great success,” stated Tyreece Miller, U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Tennessee. “We are grateful to work alongside such committed partners to bring children in West Tennessee home.”
“Homeland Security Investigations is fully committed to protecting the most vulnerable members of our community, our children,” HSI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Ross Cannon said. “Joint ‘Operation Not For Sale’ highlights the necessity of a unified effort to locate and find missing children in Western Tennessee.”
“Human traffickers exploit and endanger some of the most vulnerable members of our society and bring unimaginable harm to their victims,” said Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis. “I am very proud that the Memphis Police Department was part of this successful operation and thankful for the cooperative work done by all of the agencies involved in safeguarding at-risk children.”
“DCS was grateful to work with our law enforcement partners to identify and recover our most vulnerable citizens, Tennessee’s missing children,” Kate Greer, director of the DCS Human Trafficking Response Team, stated. “This endeavor was a great success, and we look forward to continuing the fight until every child comes home.”
“This operation shows the impact of collaboration and dedication to protecting these vulnerable individuals,” said TBI Director David Rausch. “Multiple disciplines are necessary when dealing with the sensitive issue of human trafficking due to the immense trauma that these victims suffer. We are excited about the outcomes and look forward to more operations of this nature with our partners.”
According to the TBI, officials with Restore Corps also participated in the operation and helped provide services. However, efforts to find additional children are still ongoing.
To report suspected human trafficking, call the Tennessee Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-855-55-TNHTH. You can find more information about human trafficking and the TBI’s efforts to address this type of crime at www.ItHasToStop.com.