#minorsextrafficking | Fact check: Erroneous details about 39 missing children found in Georgia and elsewhere

Tens of thousands of social media users are sharing posts saying 39 children were found in a double-wide trailer in Georgia. This is partly false. While 39 children were located over the two-week “Operation Not Forgotten”, they were found in different sites in Georgia as well as other states.

Reuters Fact Check

One post retweeted over 154,400 times ( here ) reads: “How is finding 39 missing children in a double wide trailer here in Georgia NOT the biggest news story in America?”

Posts with the claim are also on Facebook ( here&theater , here&theater ) and Instagram ( here , here ) .

The posts likely refer to the 39 missing children found in the joint sweep by U.S. Marshals and other Georgia state and local agencies during August 2020 ( here ).

A spokesman for the U.S. Marshals told Reuters via email that the children, who ranged from ages 3 to 17, were “not all found in a single place (trailer) or at the same time.”

“The children were found in a variety of places – homes, motels, on the street. Only two of the children were found together,” he said.

While the U.S. Marshal’s press release stated the operation took place in Atlanta and Macon, Georgia, the spokesman clarified to Reuters that “the majority of the children were located in Georgia, but others were found in South Carolina, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Florida, Kentucky and Michigan.”

Of the 39 children, thirteen had required a welfare check due to uncertainty over their conditions ( here and youtu.be/DbfDGHs0S14?t=1752 ), while the other 26 children were “critically missing”, for example with a person endangering their safety or suffering from a condition requiring medication.

The U.S. Marshals told Reuters that a majority of the 39 were “runaways who fell into the human trafficking realm” and that 15 were sex-trafficking victims (youtu.be/7RByqUOLskc?t=1541).

Some iterations also claim the story did not receive media coverage. This is unfounded. Various outlets covered the story, visible for example here , here , and here , here .


Partly False. 39 children were found – not in a trailer but in multiple locations in Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Florida, Kentucky and Michigan.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work   here  .    

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