ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) -- The U.S. Marshals Service tracked down 39 missing children during a two week operation in Georgia.

The agency announced 26 of the children were rescued and the other 13 were located to make sure they were safe. Nine people were arrested. 

"It was a big success, a very big success," said Darby Kirby, chief inspector of the USMS Missing Child Unit.

The two-week mission in metro Atlanta and Macon was led by the U.S Marshals Service Missing Child Unit, in conjunction with the agency's Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force, the National Center for Missing and exploited Children and Georgia state and local agencies.

CBS46 was granted access to the operation to see how the U.S. Marshals go about tracking down critically missing children.

"The child is typically at risk of some kind of crime of violence, crime of violence meaning child sex trafficking, child exploitation, abuse or there is an elevated risk factor to that child meaning they may need medication or there may be mental health concerns," said Kirby.

The children recovered were as young as three years-old.

"Our agency has a very good reputation for finding people. Typically that reputation has landed in our fugitive mission, however now we’re also really good at safely locating and recovering missing children," said Kirby.

The USMS Missing Child Unit has helped find more than 1,800 children since 2015.

Director of the U.S. Marshals Service Donald Washington says the message he has to all missing children and their families is that we will never stop looking for you.

"They are America's children, and they are kids that we need to go and find. Right here in Atlanta, approximately 300 young girls are lured into sex trafficking every month," said Washington.

"We have to take on more of a protector role, more of a guardian. We have to remove that child from the situation and then explain to her, 'hey this is why we’re here, we’re here to help you,'" said Kirby. "We offer them food, we offer them water. We have clothing for them and we take the time to explain to them why we’re there, what we’re doing and it’s for the best interest of the child.”

Copyright 2020 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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