A recent one-day sweep by multiple Michigan law enforcement organizations resulted in 123 missing children being rescued.
The sweep was called Operation MISafeKid.
The Sept. 26 sweep in Wayne County, which includes Detroit, targeted victims of sex trafficking, and found three possible victims, the Detroit Free Press reported.
The sweep worked by giving officers the last known addresses of the missing children as well as locations of the homes of friends of schools, WRDW reported.
All of those rescued were interviewed about their knowledge of or participation in sex trafficking.
“Not only to recover children that have been reported missing but the underlying tone in this was to find the hidden victims of sex trafficking,” Michigan State Police Sgt. Sarah Krebs told WXYZ.
Law enforcement agencies taking part included the Detroit Missing Child Recovery Unit of the U.S. Marshals Sex Offender Investigations Branch, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Michigan State Police, and the Detroit Police Department.
Although 123 children were rescued, officials had a total of 301 open files of missing children in the target area. About 1,400 Michigan children are listed as missing.
In a news release, the U.S. Marshal’s Office said that “one homeless teen was transported back to the command post after it was discovered that he had not had anything to eat in three days. He was then debriefed and turned over to Child Protective Services for aftercare.”
During the sweep, information was gained about two missing children in Texas and one child in Minnesota. Authorities are now trying to recover those children, according to WNEM.
The sweep was a first-of-its-kind effort in Wayne County.
Most of the children found in the sweep had either run away from their homes or from a foster care home, Michigan State Police said. Most were from the Detroit area.
“If we can do this more often …, hopefully, we won’t have this big of a problem,” Krebs said.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said on its website that in 2017, it responded to more than 10,000 cases of possible sex trafficking involving missing children. It estimated that among runaways, one in seven children ended up in sex trafficking.
The problems facing runaways know no boundaries, noted Jessica Munoz of a Hawaii non-profit that works with children, KHON reported.
“Because of the internet, the recruitment is so easy. It’s so easy, right. Kids have access to the world wide web which means perpetrators have access to them. We always tell parents it’s not really watch out for the guy in the white van who is going to kidnap your child. It’s: ‘What are they doing on their phone, who are they talking to on these social media apps?'” she said.
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