A joint law enforcement operation in Tennessee has resulted in the recovery of 150 missing children over the past two months.
According to a press release issued on March 3 by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), planning for “Operation Volunteer Strong” began in the fall of 2020 and was officially launched on January 4, 2021.
The operation initially identified 240 missing children in Tennessee. Specific law enforcement teams then began two-week blitzes of each of Tennessee’s three regions: East Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, and West Tennessee.
The missing children ranged in ages from 3 to 17.
In East Tennessee, law enforcement identified 86 missing children and recovered 56 of them between January 4 – 15. “Law enforcement identified three of the recovered juveniles as potential human trafficking victims, resulting in a still-active TBI investigation,” the press release noted.
Authorities found 42 of 72 missing children in Middle Tennessee between January 25 and February 5. One TBI investigation is ongoing due to this blitz because one child was identified as a potential victim of human trafficking.
“I hope this operation changes the course for 150 young lives and leads them to the path of opportunities every child deserves,” said Tyreece Miller, U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Tennessee. “Our efforts should also serve notice to those who prey on society’s most vulnerable that these children are not forgotten.”
In West Tennessee, law enforcement officers recovered 52 of 82 missing children. Two adults with outstanding warrants were located during the search, and one recovered child was confirmed as a victim of human trafficking. Also, one child was safely rescued during a kidnapping investigation. The suspect was arrested.
“Many people don’t realize this, but hundreds of children go missing in our state every month,” said TBI Director David Rausch. “From runaways that may leave their home out of desperation or despair, to those entangled in a custody battle, every single one of them deserves a fighting chance, and that’s why they also deserve our best work to help them.”
Operation Volunteer Strong was carried out by the United States Marshals Service, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation with additional support provided by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
Sadly, 90 children remain missing following the operation, according to TBI.
The Daily Citizen has previously reported on the recoveries of missing children, including operation “Autumn Hope” which resulted in the rescue of 45 missing children in Ohio last year, along with 179 arrests.
The two-week long “Operation Not Forgotten” in Georgia last year led to the recovery of 26 children and the finding of 13 others.
As Scripture reminds us, children are a great gift from God.
Psalm 127:3 declares, “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.”
Indeed, Jesus taught about the preciousness of every child.
“But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 19:14).
As Christians, we should be deeply grateful for brave and courageous law enforcement officials who work night and day to protect and rescue children. Those involved have undertaken a heroic task.
Let’s give thanks to the Lord that so many children were brought to safety through Operation Volunteer Strong and pray that the 90 who are still missing will soon be found.
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