INDIANAPOLIS (WXIN) — U.S. Marshals rescued eight missing and endangered children during a five-day search effort in Indianapolis.
The children, some of whom were believed to have been trafficked or enticed, were between the ages of 6 and 17 years old and were found during an effort called “Operation Homecoming Indy.”
Before February 2020, the U.S. Marshals were finding fugitives. Now, they are tasked with finding missing and endangered juveniles.
“I usually average anywhere from 11 or 12 years old up to 18,” said Deputy Marshal William Kaulfer, who led the Indianapolis effort, which went from Aug. 31 to Sept. 4.
Kaulfer said since the beginning of the year, he has found 22 missing and endangered juveniles, some in Michigan and California. Some of them were in situations involving drugs and weapons.
“For all we know, they could overdose,” he said.
After months of planning, U.S. Marshals went to dozens of addresses and conducted dozens of interviews trying to find 18 juveniles. They located eight.
“It’s success,” said Kaulfer, adding that he would like to find more. “The biggest challenge is trying to locate the kids and get them into a safe environment and try and make sure if they were in a bad environment that they get the proper resources.”
Sometimes, he said, the teens don’t want to be found. He confirmed that at least one teen ran from them Thursday.
Trafficking has been making national headlines lately, including operations in which U.S. Marshals located dozens of kids in Ohio and Georgia.
“It definitely happens in Indiana and through Indiana,” said Kaulfer, not knowing the exact numbers.
The U.S. Marshals said they plan to do a wider search effort beyond Indianapolis that encompasses the state in 2021.