More than 150 missing children rescued in Charlotte operation, some victims of human trafficking
Over 150 children who had gone missing from their homes were rescued by the police and federal agents in a joint operation between Charlotte and Mecklenburg officials. Some of the saved children were victims of human trafficking.
The missing and runaway juveniles were saved with the marshals’ assistance after an investigation that took a month.
What are the details?
Between April 26 and May 7 several teams of detectives collaborated in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area to find the missing children. The Missing Person Unit, U.S. Marshal Service deputies, and the Department of Public Safety Missing Persons Unit were reportedly involved in the massive search conducted “to find the juveniles.”
According to official reports, several minors were engaged in risky activities such as involvement in illegal drugs or prostitution. The minors were mostly between 14 and 18.
A part of the children were victims of human trafficking. CMPD officials have stated that anyone involved in crimes concerning the endangered children will be arrested.
“Kids don't need to be living alone in hotels, kids don't need to be living alone with an older partner. People who do this are looking for vulnerable people who have bad home lives and are looking for something else -- people easily manipulated,” CMPD Captain Joel McNelly stated, as reported by WCNC-TV.
McNelly also said that some kids are actively trying not to be found. “They're self-sustaining, they're trying to make money, support themselves.”
“These kids come from traumatic backgrounds, potentially abusive households, drug and alcohol addiction, incarcerated parents. We're proud of what we were able to do for the community through this,” the captain added.
Atrium Health Levine Children's Hospital, Pat's Place Child Advocacy Center, the North Carolina ISAAC Fusion Center, and Mecklenburg County Child Protective Services teamed up to provide resources for the recovered minors.
“Even if a kid goes out there with good intentions that they're going to stay on the straight and narrow, it doesn't take very long to get cold and hungry and succumb to the pressure of somebody who knows just how to time their effort into manipulating you into activity you maybe otherwise wouldn't have wanted to be a part of,” Dr. Stacy Reynolds said after the mass rescue operation in Charlotte.