U.S. marshals have the know-how and resources to track down fugitives across the country. Now they’re putting those same skills to work finding missing children.
Nevada is the fourth district to create a Missing Children Recovery Unit as part of a national initiative by the U.S. Marshals Service, as authorized by the 2015 Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. The marshals will work with local law enforcement agencies to find missing children, Gary Schofield, U.S. marshal for Nevada, said Wednesday at a news conference in Las Vegas.
“Our word to the missing children is: We will work to find you and bring you back to your loved ones,” Schofield said.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported that in 2018 there were more than 400,000 entries for missing children in the FBI’s National Crime Information Center. The majority of those children were runaways or endangered, and one in seven was a victim of sex trafficking, according to the center.
Since the national unit’s creation, more than 1,500 children have been recovered, and 68 percent of those cases were closed within a week of the marshals joining the search, Schofield said.
That includes two cases of 15-year-old girls who were recovered from sex traffickers, he said. One girl was found after a video of her being raped at gunpoint was posted to a pornography website. The other, a runaway, was sold to a pimp by her mother and transported to several different states before marshals recovered her following a tip to the missing children center.
The marshals unit in Nevada will work with the missing children’s center, the FBI and local law enforcement to find runaways, kidnapped children, human trafficking victims and other lost or missing children, Schofield said. It also provides oversight and training to Marshals Service investigators assigned to the cases.
“What that means for the state of Nevada, for all of our jurisdictions throughout the state, is we have added an additional tool to assist on missing children,” he said.
Schofield said the unit will be available to assist rural counties in Nevada that don’t have full-time missing persons units.
“We also think that it’s also a comfort to those children that are out there right now and involved in sex trafficking and being victimized, that they know that another branch of the United States government … will bring its full force and efforts to try and recover them and bring them back to the ones they love,” he said.
Victims of sex trafficking or anyone who suspects that a child may be involved in sex trafficking should call their local police department or the U.S. Marshals Service. Tips can be submitted anonymously online at usmarshals.gov.