Eight missing children rescued and 18 sex offenders arrested in New Orleans area

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Eight missing children rescued and 18 sex offenders arrested in New Orleans area


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Originally posted on
www.nola.com

The U.S. Marshals recovered eight missing children and arrested 18 sex offenders for registration violations in the metro New Orleans area during a two-month operation, authorities said Tuesday.

Another three children returned home on their own, and three more were recovered by a task force which works with the U.S. Marshals.

In a particularly alarming case, one of the children safely recovered was a teen girl who was heading to Las Vegas to meet up with an older man she met online, the U.S. Marshals said in a statement. She was found in Phoenix, Arizona, authorities said. Two others, a 17-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy who had run away together from a group home and a foster home, were recovered in Columbia, Mississippi.

In a telephone interview, Deputy U.S. Marshal Brian W. Fair said most of the recovered children are battling mental health or drug abuse problems that make them particularly vulnerable to human trafficking.

The Marshals’ Missing Child Unit also uncovered allegations of human sex trafficking of minors involving one or two children, Fair said. Because the investigation is ongoing, he could not elaborate. Officials also recovered a rifle that had been stolen from New Orleans and possibly used in gang activity, authorities said.

The U.S. Marshals’ statement about the operation did not provide any details about how the children went missing.

In a related operation, six adult fugitives wanted by the New Orleans Police Department were also arrested as part of operations that the U.S. Marshals called “Return of the School Year” and “NO Saints and Sinners 2021,” respectively. Those suspects are facing charges including sexual battery on a 7-year-old boy and production of child porn on a 14-year-old girl.

The U.S. Marshals did not identify those suspects.

Multiple agencies worked together in the operation, which ran from Aug. 1 to Sept. 30. Besides the U.S. Marshals New Orleans Task Force, along with U.S. Marshals in Mississippi and Arizona, those agencies included the New Orleans Police Department, Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, Slidell Police Department, Covington Police Department, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office, Louisiana State Police, the FBI in New Orleans and the Louisiana Department of Child and Family Services.

“This was another example of the results that can be accomplished with continuing law enforcement teamwork,” said the top U.S. Marshal in the New Orleans area, Scott Illing. “Much of this work was also accomplished while dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in the New Orleans metro area.”

From Oct. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021, the U.S. Marshals New Orleans Task Force recovered 43 children who were considered missing or endangered, or had been victimized by family abductions. Sixteen more children self-returned, and five children were rescued through other efforts.

The U.S. Marshals’ Missing Child Unit work is in addition to the operations for which it is better known, such as arresting violent fugitives and ensuring sex offenders comply with registration requirements.

“The recovery of the eight children is substantial. It shows the body of work this group does, on top of the daily work our U.S. Marshals task force is doing,” Fair said. “Kids go missing all the time. We think the mission is important.”

Carlie Wells and Ramon Antonio Vargas contributed to this report.