A joint law enforcement operation has led to the location and recovery of 70 missing children, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced.
Multiple law enforcement agencies took part in the three-week long “Operation Lost Souls” to recover the missing children, which took place from the end of April to mid-May in El Paso, Midland and Ector, and Tom Green counties.
According to DHS, the missing children ranged in age from 10 to 17. The children included some who had run away from home, and others who were victims of sex trafficking, and physical and sexual abuse. The children and their families were provided with victim services and counseling.
“Operation Lost Souls exemplifies Homeland Security Investigations’ commitment to protecting the public from crimes of victimization. In this case, we are looking out for our children – our community’s most precious resource,” said HSI El Paso Deputy Special Agent in Charge Taekuk Cho.
“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,” he added.
The operation’s results were announced on May 25, coinciding with National Missing Children’s Day.
Operation Lost Souls involved several law enforcement agencies, including Homeland Security Investigations El Paso, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), Texas Highway Patrol, U.S. Marshals Service, Federal Bureau of Investigations, among others.
DPS Major 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.”
DHS requested that if you have information about a human trafficking victim, [or other] information about this type of criminal activity, please contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888.
Focus on the Family offers free, one-time counseling consultations with a licensed or pastoral counselor. You can request a consultation by calling 1-855-771-HELP or by filling out a Counseling Consultation Request Form.
If you want to learn more about human trafficking, how you can fight it, and how parents can protect their children from it, listen to Focus on the Family’s Broadcast, Human Trafficking: What You Need to Know. You’ll also hear from a young woman named “Lacy” who shares her story as a former child trafficking victim and how she escaped the industry.
Related articles and resources:
National Human Trafficking Resource Center and Hotline – 1-888-373-7888
Photo from ICE.