150 missing Tennessee children recovered by law enforcement during months-long effort

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reported 150 missing children from Tennessee have been recovered during a months-long collaborative effort between state and federal agencies.

The TBI, along with the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services and the U.S. Marshals Service, revealed the information during a joint news briefing Wednesday, detailing “Operation Volunteer Strong.”

Shelly Smitherman, the TBI’s Assistant Special Agent in Charge said planning for the operation began in fall 2020 and the agency’s intelligence analysts compiled files for 240 missing children across the state.

During two-week blitzes in each of Tennessee’s three regions, Smitherson said 150 of the 240 missing children were recovered. She said they range in age from three to 17-years-old.

In the Middle Tennessee region, which includes Nashville, the TBI reported 72 missing children were identified and 42 of them were recovered. Law enforcement identified one of the children as a potential human trafficking victim, resulting in an ongoing TBI investigation, the agency said.

“We can’t give up. We need the public, the media, and all law enforcement to not give up,” Denny King, U.S. Marshal for the Middle District of Tennessee said. “If you see something, or know something, say something. We cannot give up and stop searching for our most vulnerable and those who cannot help themselves.”

Commissioner Jennifer Nichols with Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services added 93 of the children recovered were DCS children, most of which were girls.

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