150 missing children recovered in operation, Tennessee and federal authorities say

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Marshals Service, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced 150 children were recovered as part of Operation Volunteer Strong.

In the fall of 2020, the agencies began creating files on 240 children that had been reported missing in the state. The operation ended in February with 150 of those children recovered. The children ranged in age from three to 17 years old, Shelly Smitherman with the TBI said.

According to Tyreece Miller with the U.S. Marshals Service, 52 children were recovered, and multiple arrests were made in West Tennessee, including the arrest of Tiffany Moore who was wanted in Memphis for attempted carjacking.

Two children were also recovered in Georgia and Wisconsin, respectively.

“Just like the Tennesseans who volunteered to fight for our country in the War of 1812… DCS, TBI and the US Marshals Service went to battle for our children,” Miller said.

A missing child from Iowa was located by the task force in a motel in Horn Lake, Mississippi. There were indicators that led authorities to believe that was a case of human trafficking and the FBI were called in to assist the Horn Lake Police Department in that ongoing investigation.

Another girl reported missing in Nebraska was discovered in a Dyersburg motel with a man wanted for making terroristic threats and unlawful use of a firearm with intent to commit a felony. The man was arrested and extradicted to Nebraska.

“I hope this operation changes the course for 150 young lives and leads them to the path of opportunities every child deserves,” said Tyreece Miller, U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Tennessee. “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.”

DCS officials say 93 of the children were in DCS custody before they went missing. Those children are back in state custody.

“Mostly girls,” Jennifer Nichols with DCS said, “Mostly previously declared to be dependent and neglected.”

While praising the success of the operation, Miller said the hard work continues and the search for the other children would continue.

The Tennessee Department of Corrections, Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, Memphis Police Department, Jackson Police Department, Trenton Police Department, Brownsville Police Department and Horn Lake Police Department also assisted in bringing these children home.

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