Arizona children found as part of nationwide ‘Operation We Will Find You 2’

Jul 4, 2024, 6:30 AM | Updated: 7:17 am

Arizona missing children found by federal marshals...

National and local authorities alike teamed up in "Operation We Will Find You 2" (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Several Arizona-based children were recovered after the U.S. Marshals Service’s investigation titled “Operation We Will Find You 2” ended last month.

The District of Arizona partnered with U.S. Marshals Service to search Maricopa and Pima counties.

Sixteen children were “safely located” and 33 were “successfully recovered” thanks to the collective efforts of these two groups.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and Arizona Department of Child Safety provided information that guided local authorities in locating an additional 71 children.

“Together with our partner agencies, we located and recovered dozens of Arizona children who were victims of abuse, forced addictions and sex trafficking,” Acting United States Marshal Van Bayless said. “This operation highlights the need to intensify our efforts in order to locate more victims and to bring their captors to justice.”

The undertaking was the second of its kind and ran a total of six weeks (May 20 to June 24). Authorities swept the nation and returned a total of 200 missing children back to safe locations.

Highlights from 3 cases in Arizona

U.S. Marshal Service put a spotlight on three specific cases solved in Arizona.

The first was the finding of a pregnant, 16-year-old female who had run away from a group home in March.

The Glendale Police Department located her on May 14, a six days before the national search was ordered because of the urgency of the situation. She was discovered with an adult male and believed to be a target of sex trafficking. The man was discovered to be on probation in Maricopa County and was arrested for breaking probation protocols.

Next came the finding of a 14-year-old female who was last seen on May 17.

She was reported as missing near a shopping center in Phoenix and recovered on June 5, still in the city. A few of her advocates said she was meeting a man on the day of her disappearance.

The most recent discovery was of a 16-year-old female who had been missing from her Phoenix group home since April.

She was documented traveling through Los Angeles and Miami before being found in Flint, Michigan by U.S. Marshals Services on June 11. It is believed that the she has a history of being a sex traffic victim and the case is being looked at by Homeland Security Investigations.

How to report any findings on missing persons

Those with any information regarding missing persons should contact local authorities and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-The-Lost.

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Arizona children found as part of nationwide ‘Operation We Will Find You 2’