According to a release from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a three-week operation in west Texas dubbed “Operation Lost Souls” has led to the recovery of 70 missing children as well as sex trafficking victims. The investigation was conducted by the Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) and ran from the end of April through mid-May in El Paso, Midland, and Ector.
The missing children, many of them who were identified as runaways, ranged in age from 10 to 17 years old. Some of the children found were also victims of sex trafficking and physical and sexual abuse, according to ICE. Most of the children were recovered from west Texas, but others were found in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, as well as Colorado and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
DPS Maj. Matthew Mull said: “At the Department of Public Safety, teamwork is one of our core values. We are grateful for all of our law enforcement partners who participated in this operation and who work around the clock every day to protect our communities, including our youth.” The agencies also provided victim services and counseling to the children rescued and their families.
El Paso Deputy Special Agent in Charge Taekuk Cho said in a statement: “Operation Lost Souls exemplifies Homeland Security Investigations’ commitment to protecting the public from crimes of victimization. HSI is committed to continue working with our law enforcement partners to locate, recover and help missing children heal, while ensuring that perpetrators are held responsible for these heinous crimes and brought to justice.”
No arrests have been announced, but authorities said HSI is investigating “additional information and leads.” If you have information about a human trafficking victim or information about this type of criminal activity, please contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888.
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