NEW ORLEANS - Law enforcement in Louisiana announced the recovery of 14 missing or endangered children in the state, as well as successfully locating an additional child, as part of a four-month-long operation.
Eight people were also arrested as part of the sting, called operation "Summer Knights" and led by the U.S. Marshals Service Eastern District of Louisiana New Orleans.
The recoveries included the rescue of a 17-year-old male who had been kidnapped from Jefferson Parish in the New Orleans area and being held for ransom, authorities said. In early July, three adults fled from law enforcement with the victim in a vehicle and were later arrested when stopped on the Causeway Bridge, while the teen was safely recovered.
In another case, a 13-year-old female was recovered in the city of Denham Springs after running away from home. Authorities said she was believed to have been in contact with an 18-year-old male she met on social media.
On July 26, two 12-year-old females were found in the New Orleans area who had run away together weeks earlier and "were known to be in the company of adult males, possibly planning on leaving the state," according to the Marshals Service. Both teens were recovered at a residence in New Orleans, and an adult male was arrested on charges of contributing to the delinquency of juveniles and performing a sexually immoral act.
A 15-year-old female, who claimed to be pregnant and planning to relocate to Texas, was safely recovered after being found walking on Canal Street in New Orleans with an adult male, authorities said.
In one case, a 16-year-old male runaway was apprehended in June, wanted by both New Orleans Police and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office. The juvenile had a March 2021 felony warrant for 14 counts of vehicle burglary in uptown New Orleans. The Marshals Service said he had also run away from a facility in Jefferson Parish in February 2021 and is believed to be linked to multiple felony criminal activity incidents involving firearms in the metro area in that time.
"I am very proud of the results of Operation Summer Knights and the profound impact it has had on protecting one of the most vulnerable groups in our community," Enix Smith, U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Louisiana, said in a statement. "This work could not be accomplished without the support of our federal, state, and local partners agencies involved in safeguarding at-risk children."
The "Summer Knights" operation included members from the New Orleans Police Department, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, Homeland Security (HSI) New Orleans Field Office, Louisiana Department of Child and Family Services, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), and Crimestoppers GNO.
This story was reported from Cincinnati.