Several dozen missing minors were located, recovered, or rescued after a month-long operation in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in Texas, officials said on March 10.
At least seven recoveries were of critically missing children with ties to sex trafficking.
Cases included rescuing a 15-year-old girl from a “john’s” house in Fort Worth and recovering a 15-year-old girl from an Uber in Houston during a prostitution sting.
The other 24 children were recovered from friends or relatives and reunited with their legal guardians.
The operation was conducted by the U.S. Marshals Service and Homeland Security Investigations, with assistance from the police departments of Arlington, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Grand Prairie.
“To observe law enforcement partnerships and community concerns culminate into such a successful recovery outcome is rewarding,” said Acting U.S. Marshal Quintella Downs-Bradshaw in a statement. “Victims should know they are not forgotten, there is hope and a way to return home.”
“We are grateful to be a part of a coalition of extraordinary law enforcement agencies who were dedicated in reuniting these children with their loved ones. It is our hope that each of them will be able to put this traumatic experience behind them and move forward to have a happy and productive life,” Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia said.
“These kids and teens represent some of our most vulnerable populations where adults try to prey on their innocence. We will not rest until every child is located safe and someone is held accountable,” Arlington Police Chief Al Jones added.
Analysts with the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services supported the operation by providing critical intelligence, with additional support from the nonprofit 4theONE.
More than 346,000 missing children reports were recorded by the National Crime Information Center in 2020. Approximately the same number were purged from the system for reasons including a law enforcement agency locating a subject or an individual returning home on their own.
Children who go missing include those who were abducted by a relative or nonfamily perpetrator, those who ran away, and those who got lost, federal officials have said.
U.S. Marshals Service Director Donald Washington said during an Oct. 1, 2020, appearance on Fox Business that many missing children “are in particular danger as a result of either being victims of violent crime or because of who they are.”
“For example, some of them may be in the middle of gang affiliations or in the midst of drug abusers or in the middle of some bad situations involving people who have violent tendencies and things of that sort.”