In an impressive win for a collaborative of state and federal law enforcement agencies, a months-long effort known as “Operation Volunteer Strong” has resulted in the recovery of 150 missing Tennessee youth, including several possible human trafficking victims, Breitbart reported.
According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), planning for the initiative began last fall, with active mobilization having started on Jan. 4 of this year.
Working in unison, the TBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services worked to compile a list of 240 missing kids, subsequently utilizing intelligence data to compile leads that were then pursued in two-week bursts within in three key regions across the state, as Nashville ABC affiliate WKRN reported.
In the end, 150 of the 240 children being sought in the push were recovered, with those youngsters ranging from three to 17 years of age.
In the East Tennessee region, three of the minors recovered through the operation were designated as possible victims of human trafficking, and a TBI investigation in those cases continues. In reference to the urgency of the initiative, U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Tennessee, David Jolley stated:
The U.S. Marshals are committed to assisting state and local agencies with locating and recovering endangered missing children to help prevent their falling victim to crimes of violence and exploitation.
Recovery efforts in the Middle and West Tennessee regions yielded another two children who may have been victims of human trafficking, and probes in those cases remain ongoing.
In lauding the success of Operation Volunteer Strong, U.S. Marshal Tyreece Miller of the Western District of Tennessee declared his hope that the operation “changes the course for 150 young lives and leads them to the path of opportunities every child deserves.”
Miller went on to promise that law enforcement efforts of this nature should “serve notice to those who prey on society’s most vulnerable that these children are not forgotten. Investigations will continue and the next knock at the door could be for you.”
According to TBI officials, the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services will provide continued assistance to the majority of missing youth recovered through the initiative, and those services could include foster or group home placement.