New details have emerged in a two-week effort last month that located 39 missing and endangered children, some of whom were said to have been sex-trafficking victims.
In all, 39 children were found across seven states in an operation led by the U.S. Marshals Service.
But it turns out that six of the children were found across six states — Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee — a federal agent involved in the operation told The Telegraph this week.
All told, 26 children were said to have been rescued and 13 others were safely located.
None involved a stranger abduction and one case involved an alleged parental kidnapping of a 3-year-old child.
So far nine arrests have been made in the effort, four of them in Florida, the agent said.
“Some were traffickers and some were just kind of collateral arrests … where maybe we were in the process of rescuing some these kids (and) we ran across people who had a firearm and maybe were a felon so they were charged with that,” said Josue Rivera, a senior inspector with the Marshals Service.
Running away from foster care
Asked to clarify the nature of what constituted a “missing” child in the effort — which was dubbed “Operation Not Forgotten” — Rivera said the optics of the word “missing” can be “pretty strong.”
Many if not all of the children located, he said, “were deemed at-risk when they … ran away from [Division of Family & Children Services] custody and fell into that human-trafficking realm.”
He added: “And after they ran away, DFCS would report them missing to local agencies. So they were reported missing because no one knew where they were.”
The Marshals Service said its operation classified the children it searched for as “critically-missing,” those ages 17 and under, including runaways who were at-risk to be trafficked.
The three children rescued in Macon were believed to be victims of suspected sex trafficking, Rivera said, as were two of the four victims located in Columbus.
Of the 33 children found in Georgia, eight were in Fulton County, which had the most children located after Columbus.
Other Georgia counties where children were found were: Cobb and DeKalb with three each; Clayton and Rockdale with two each; and Bartow, Carroll, Gwinnett, Harris, Lumpkin, Pickens, Polk and Sumter with one each.
People arrested in the case, according to the Marshals Service, were:
Moradeyo Amos Bandele, arrested in Port St. Lucie, Florida, on rape charge in Conyers, Georgia.
Trayon Moore, arrested in DeKalb County, on a sex-trafficking charge and on probation-violation warrants.
James Garcia, arrested in Clearwater, Florida, on charges from Whitfield County, Georgia, that included aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy and incest with a minor.
Faye Smith, arrested Clearwater, Florida, for an alleged probation violation.
Sally Garcia, arrested in Clearwater, Florida, charged with interference with child custody.
Zachary Bailey, arrested in Columbus, accused of charges that include human trafficking, enticing of a minor for indecent purposes and enticement of a minor for solicitation.
Stanson Causey, arrested in the Georgia city of Jasper, said to be a registered sex offender wanted for an alleged probation violation.
Kirk Waters, arrested in Newton County, accused of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Trevonte Shareef, arrested in Newton County, charged with interference with child custody and obstruction.