MACON, Ga. — Editor's Note: The video in this story is from the announcement of the GBI's anti-trafficking task force earlier this month.
The US Marshals held a press conference Thursday afternoon where they announced the rescue and recovery of 39 Georgia children in a missing child operation named ‘Operation Not Forgotten.’
US Marshals Director Donald Washington said that over the course of the two-week operation in August, 26 missing and endangered children were recovered, 13 children were safely located and a total of 9 people were arrested.
Washington said some of those arrested face charges ranging from sex trafficking and sex offender violations, to parent kidnapping and custodial interference.
The 26 children that were rescued range in age from 3-17 and were believed to be the most at-risk and challenging recovery cases in the state.
Not all of them are sex trafficking victims, said Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr, but some of them are believed to be.
The other 13 children were identified by law enforcement as needing to be located via a welfare check, and then the agencies verified if the child was endangered.
Washington says the FBI has reports of more than 421,000 missing children and of those, around 90% are considered endangered runaways. 1 in 6 of the endangered runaways is likely to become the victim of sex trafficking.
According to Washington, roughly 300 young girls in the Atlanta-area are lured into trafficking monthly.
One of his most important messages was directed to victims of trafficking -- “We will never stop looking for you.”
The results of this operation come after Gov. Brian Kemp announced the activation of a GBI anti-trafficking task force that will be known as the HEAT Unit earlier this month.
It is unclear what, if any, involvement that unit had with the operation.
The 9 people arrested, as well as their charges and locations were released to 13WMAZ days after the press conference:
- Moradeyo Amos Bandele – Arrested in Port St Lucy, FL – Warrant for Rape out of Conyers, GA
- Trayon Moore – Dekalb County – Sex Trafficking and Probation Violation warrants
- James Garcia -- Arrested at a Motel in Clearwater, Fl - Warrants out of Whitfield County, GA - Aggravated Child Molestation, Aggravated Sodomy and Incest with a Minor
- Faye Smith – Arrested at a motel in Clearwater, Fl – Warrant for Probation Violation
- Sally Garcia – Arrested at a motel in Clearwater, Fl – Interference with Child Custody
- Zachary Bailey -- Arrested in Columbus, GA – Human trafficking, Enticing of a Minor for Indecent Purposes, and Enticement of a Minor for Solicitation
- Stanson Causey – Arrested in Jasper, GA – Registered Sex Offender arrested for Probation Violation
- Kirk Waters – Arrested in Newton County GA – Felon in Possession of a Firearm
- Trevonte Shareef – Arrested in Newton County – Interference with Custody and Obstruction