16 Missing Children Found In New Orleans In US Marshals Sting Operation

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Sixteen missing and endangered children were recovered in New Orleans following the US Marshals' three-month operation.

According to a news release from the agency, five people were arrested and agents uncovered allegations of sex trafficking in several of the cases. Dubbed "Operation Fresh Start," the sting was led by the Missing Child Unit of the US Marshal Service Eastern District of the Louisiana New Orleans Task Force and kicked off on January 1 and ended March 31.

It comes just months after "Operation Boo Dat" recovered five missing teenage girls and led to the arrest of 30 individuals.

"Based on the operation at least four (4) felony warrant(s) exist for adults suspected of involvement with MCU minors and the USMS New Orleans Task Force is actively pursuing these fugitives," the news release reads.

Among the children recovered were a seven-year-old boy and five-year-old girl whose mother, who does not have legal custody, took them to Fort Lauderdale, avoiding arrest in the process. A task force in Florida located and recovered the children and arrested the mother.

A one-year-old baby was also discovered in the sting. The infant was abducted by their father who police said had shot and killed the child's grandfather. The agency said the father surrendered to authorities.

Last month, a 14-year-old "habitual runaway and previous victim of sexual assault" was also recovered in Addis, Louisiana, with the help of the West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office.

"I am very proud of the cooperative work done by all the agencies involved in safeguarding at risk children. Our Office is proud to be a part of the robust MCU program that took root in New Orleans starting in 2016," US Marshal Scott Illing said in a statement.

The NYPD, FBI, and New Orleans Police Department also assisted in the operation.

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