The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) said Wednesday 150 missing children were recovered during a months-long collaborative operation.
TBI, the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, and the U.S. Marshals Service announced the information during a news briefing, WKRN reported.
Planning for the effort, dubbed Operation Volunteer Strong, began in fall 2020, and launched on January 4, TBI said in a press release.
“After identifying 240 missing children statewide, TBI intelligence analysts compiled thorough information and potential leads on each, which designated law enforcement teams carefully pursued during two-week blitzes in each of Tennessee’s three grand regions,” the release stated.
TBI Dir. David Rausch: Our mission- “That guilt shall not escape, nor innocence suffer”-is more than a motto. It reminds us everyday of what really matters. In this operation, it was the innocence of children who may need help or love, a new start or just someone safe to talk to. pic.twitter.com/VIOUNYwsMJ
— Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (@TBInvestigation) March 3, 2021
According to Shelly Smitherman, TBI’s assistant special agent in charge, those found ranged from ages three to seventeen.
“In the Middle Tennessee region, which includes Nashville, the TBI reported 72 missing children were identified and 42 of them were recovered,” according to the WKRN, which added that officers identified one child as a potential human trafficking victim.
“We can’t give up. We need the public, the media, and all law enforcement to not give up,” Denny King, U.S. marshal for the Middle District of Tennessee, explained.
“If you see something, or know something, say something. We cannot give up and stop searching for our most vulnerable and those who cannot help themselves,” he continued.
Tyreece Miller, U.S. marshal for the Western District of Tennessee, said he hoped the operation changed the course of the children’s lives for the better.
“Our efforts should also serve notice to those who prey on society’s most vulnerable that these children are not forgotten. Investigations will continue and the next knock at the door could be for you,” he stated.
The majority of the children will receive services through the state’s Department of Children’s Services, which may include foster home placement, group homes, or additional specialized care, the TBI’s press release concluded.
Last month, Missouri law enforcement officials rescued eight human trafficking victims.
Watch TBI’s press conference: