|By: Keli McAlister|
Thirteen missing children from Shelby County have been located following a two-day multi-agency joint operation in Memphis, which focused on locating missing juveniles at high risk for human trafficking victimization.
The effort, dubbed Operation Not for Sale, was a partnership between the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, United States Marshals Service, Homeland Security Investigations, Memphis Police Department – Human Trafficking Task Force and Organized Crime Unit, and the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services – Absconder Unit and Human Trafficking Response Team.During the planning phase weeks before the operation, intelligence analysts identified juveniles who were considered high-risk in regard to human trafficking.
During the two-day effort, on November 2nd and 3rd, six teams searched 56 locations in the Memphis area. Twelve juveniles ranging from 11 to 17 years old, who were previously identified as at-risk, were located and are now safe.
During the operation, an additional case was adopted in which a two-month-old infant was located.“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,” said 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,” said HSI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Ross “Clint” Cannon.
“Joint ‘Operation Not For Sale’ highlights the necessity of a unified effort to locate and find missing children in Western Tennessee.”Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said, “When criminals are apprehended, it’s a good feeling to know that we’re putting bad actors behind bars, but that sense of accomplishment is nothing compared to saving a missing child who is being exploited. Human traffickers exploit and endanger some of the most vulnerable members of our society and bring unimaginable harm to their victims. 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,” said Kate Greer, Director of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services Human Trafficking Response Team. “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.”
Officials with Restore Corps participated in the operation and assisted in providing services.
Efforts to locate additional children remain active and ongoing.
To report suspected human trafficking, call the Tennessee Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-855-55-TNHTH. Information about human trafficking and TBI’s efforts to address this type of crime can be found online at www.ItHasToStop.com.