WARMINSTER, PA — Two of the 16 children recovered by U.S. Marshals and other investigators in a month-long operation were from Bucks County, officials said Friday, and one had run away from a Warminster youth home.
On Thursday, federal officials announced the results of Operation Safeguard, a multi-agency operation focused on human trafficking and “the location and recovery of critically missing and exploited children,” according to the marshals service.
The operation focused on 26 missing-child cases in Philadelphia and Bucks County, with six of them believed to be related to child sex trafficking, authorities said. Over four weeks, from Feb. 15-March 15, 16 of those children were “recovered at the request of law enforcement to ensure the child’s well-being,” the U.S. Marshals Service said.
Officials told Patch that one of the children in the Bucks County cases was found in Fairless Hills and the other was found in Trenton, N.J. One of them had run away from Valley Youth House in Warminster and the other was reported missing by the Philadelphia Department of Human Services.
Valley Youth House is a short-term shelter for teens in troubled situations and in immediate need of housing. Residents there are not being “locked up” and, as such, typically may come and go on their own while they are there.
A third case out of Bucks County remains open and also is believed to involve child-sex trafficking, according to the official.
No arrests have been publicly reported as a result of Operation Safeguard. A Department of Justice spokesman said Friday that several criminal cases related to the operation remain under investigation.
According to authorities, the children targeted in the operation were considered some of the most at-risk and challenging cases in the area, based on factors including sex trafficking, child exploitation, sexual or physical abuse and medical and mental-health conditions.
The U.S. Marshals Service created a missing-child unit after Congress passed the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015, which enhanced the agency’s authority in such cases. Since 2015, the marshals service has recovered more than 1,700 missing children
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