Massive Rescue Operation: 27 Children Saved in Tampa Bay Area

Massive Rescue Operation: 27 Children Saved in Tampa Bay Area

After five weeks of work, the U.S. Marshals Service successfully rescued children in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties who were in grave danger.

“Operation Seminole Saber,” a multi-agency task group, saved 27 kids from possible human trafficking and other hazardous circumstances. According to Deputy U.S. Marshal Mario Price, the task force had a single main objective.

“The ultimate purpose of the operation is to recover missing children,” Price stated.

In order to locate and retrieve the children, U.S. Marshals collaborated with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Tampa Police Department, the St. Petersburg Police Department, and other regional organizations.

“They’ve been reported missing by whoever their guardian is,” Price stated. “Sometimes that’s a family member and sometimes these kids are wards of the state.”

Certain youngsters flee from harmful familial environments, while others are drawn in by the actions of evildoers.

“I do believe these kids are in legitimate danger and I think it’s important that we find them,” Price stated.

When the kids do leave, though, they frequently enter a world for which they are unprepared.

“Kids will run for a variety of different reasons, but they don’t always have plans in place for what they are going to do while on the run,” Price stated.

During the operation, 27 children were found or retrieved safely. One of the first places they are taken after being removed from risky situations is to a wing of St. Joseph’s Hospital that has been specifically designated for their evaluation.

The kids are occasionally examined for signs of sexual or physical abuse. Some are assessed for additional medical conditions.

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According to the BayCare Behavioral Health Director of Operations, occasionally the organization only offers a person to listen to the issues that the children who are brought in have.

According to Tracey Kaly, these children have frequently been in and out of medical facilities and may not be able to express their desires or provide their approval to be with people or say things that are requested of them.

Therefore, we want this to be an area where people are free to make their own decisions.

Some of the kids, according to her, just want to chat and strike up a conversation by saying, “Hey, you’ve been through a lot, would you like to talk a bit about what’s going on? Can we help you in the moment right now? Sometimes they just want to go to sleep and that’s OK,” Kaly stated. “Sometimes they don’t want to talk to anyone and that’s OK.”

Price declared the procedure a success.

“We were able to recover a number of potential human trafficking victims,” he stated. “We were able to clear a number of juvenile arrest warrants.”