By WBTV Web Staff | May 19, 2021 at 11:16 AM EDT – Updated May 19 at 2:49 PM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – Charlotte-Mecklenburg police located over 150 missing juveniles during an operation and brought them home.
Most of the juveniles had been missing for more than six months, police say.
“The juveniles were reunited with their families or returned to DSS custody,” police say. And intensified operation of “Operation Carolina Homecoming” took place between April 26 and May 7, when at least 27 juveniles were found.
Many of the juveniles were found living at hotels, with an adult partner or with a friend.
“Several of the juveniles were discovered to have been engaged in high-risk activities such as prostitution and narcotics activity, and a few of them were victims of human trafficking,” police say.
Operation Carolina Homecoming led to CMPD identifying and locating over 130 juveniles. Most of them had been missing for more than six months. This operation took place from April 26 to May 7.
— CMPD News (@CMPD) May 19, 2021
“These are kids who have really tried to get away from home situations or they don’t like being in CPS custody or living in a group home, or they’re just engaging in criminal activity,” police said. Many juveniles who run away may disappear for hours, days or weeks, police say, but “these are kids who are taking active measures not to be found.”
Atrium Health partnered with CMPD and other agencies to help provide physical and mental health care services. Doctors try to connect with the juveniles and help them heal after many experienced trauma.
Pat’s Place Child Advocacy Center, the North Carolina ISAAC Fusion Center and Mecklenburg County Child Protective Services also assisted to provide the juveniles with resources for recovery.
“This is really a call to action for the community,” the doctor said. “I think we all know there’s a mental health and behavioral health crisis.”
Atrium Health partnered with CMPD and other agencies to help give physical and mental health care services. They try to connect with the kids and help them heal after many experienced trauma.
— Paige Pauroso (@PaigePauroso) May 19, 2021
Most of the juveniles were between 14 and 18 years old, with some being younger.
“Some of these kids run because they’re seeking love and acceptance,” the doctors said, at which time predators step in to try and provide that.
“There definitely are predators out there in society who try to connect with people through social media,” police said. “The people who do this know exactly who they’re looking for.”
Last year, Charlotte police said they had at least 2,300 missing persons.
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