More than two dozen missing children have been located in North Texas after a month-long operation in which federal agencies partner with local law enforcement.
Thirty-one missing children were found in a joint effort called “Operation Missing in the Metroplex.” The U.S. Marshals Service and Homeland Security Investigations partnered with Grand Prairie, Arlington, Fort Worth and Dallas Police Departments to track down the minors. At least seven children, some as young as 13, had been forced into sex trafficking, police said.
“Human trafficking is something that we take seriously, that all of our agencies take seriously,” said Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia. “As a father of three kids I tell you what, it’s incredibly heart-wrenching to see not only these young lives being traumatized but how they got here to begin with.”
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The U.S. Department of Justice says some 420,000 children are reported missing each year. Chief Garcia said getting them back is a collaborative effort and he knows there’s more work to be done.
“We know there’s a lot more out there,” he said. “This is a small victory. We have a lot more to do in this arena so we’re going to continue that fight.”
A news release from the U.S. Department of Justice said analysts with the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Missing & Unidentified Persons Unit and the Texas Department of Family & Protective Services provided critical intelligence. Local nonprofit 4theONE provided 24-hour support and numerous tips that helped with the recoveries.
Twenty-four of the 31 children were recovered from friends or relatives, reunited with their legal guardians, and removed from the missing children database.