By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

The U.S. Marshals Service has recovered 16 missing children, arrested five individuals, and has broken open a sex trafficking ring as law enforcement continues its quest to stop the proliferation of kidnapping and crimes against kids.

“Fresh Start,” a three-month tactical operation, took place in New Orleans from January 1 through March 31, the Marshal service said in a news release.

Led by the Missing Child Unit, officers rescued 16 children on the missing and endangered list.

“Based on the operation, at least four (4) felony warrant(s) exist for adults suspected of involvement with MCU minors, and the USMS New Orleans Task Force is actively pursuing these fugitives,” authorities said.

Among those recovered were a 5-year-old female and a 7-year-old male taken by a non-custodial parent.

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office issued a felony warrant for the children’s mother for kidnapping, and authorities alleged that she made active attempts to avoid arrest along the way.

The non-custodial parent took the children to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The U.S. Marshals from the Florida/Caribbean Regional Fugitive Task Force recovered the children and arrested the mother.

Also, a 15-year-old Ouachita Parish, Louisiana, female diagnosed with Schizophrenia wrestled free from restraints and jumped out of an ambulance while paramedics transported her to Children’s Hospital in New Orleans.

She was located and recovered at an address in New Orleans with assistance from New Orleans Police Department Special Victim’s Division – Child Abuse Unit, Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office, and Xavier University Police Department.

“I am very proud of the cooperative work done by all the agencies involved in safeguarding at-risk children. Our Office is proud to be a part of a robust MCU program that took root in New Orleans starting in 2016,” US Marshal Scott Illing said in a statement.

“This work is being done with our partners while our office still performs its critical USMS missions (judicial and witness security, managing federal prisoners, violent fugitives’ apprehension, sex offender investigations, and service of federal process),” Illing said.