A missing girl was found inside a tractor-trailer at the U.S.-Mexico border near Texas in late August, officials said, adding that she might have been the victim of sex trafficking.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection said agents in Laredo, Texas, were able to “locate a missing female juvenile concealed inside a tractor-truck at the [Interstate-35] checkpoint.” The missing girl was reported missing in Odessa, Texas, and the Webb County Sheriff’s Office took the juvenile and driver into custody, officials said.
“Laredo Sector Border Patrol agents continue to be diligent every day in protecting the safety of our citizens and preventing potential tragedy,” the agency said.
The child’s identity has not been released.
Also in Texas, a woman recently told officials she jumped from an 18-wheeler to get away from alleged kidnappers, Fox News reported. The woman, who was injured, said it occurred in Cisco, and added that she was taken to El Paso by three men.
Police in Cisco said last week that a “second female that was in the truck is safe and accounted for,” adding, “The alleged victim that jumped from the truck is safe.”
According to Human Trafficking Hotline, the state had more than 1,000 human trafficking cases reported last year, and more than 900 of them involved female victims.
Anyone with information about a case can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888.
Last week, around 39 missing children were located in a two-week rescue operation in Georgia, according to the U.S. Marshals.
“These missing children were considered to be some of the most at-risk and challenging recovery cases in the area, based on indications of high-risk factors such as victimization of child sex trafficking, child exploitation, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and medical or mental health conditions,” a press release from the service said.
Director of the U.S. Marshals Donald Washington said in a statement: “The message to missing children and their families is that we will never stop looking for you.”
In a press conference announcing the news, Washington told reporters that the operation is among the missions that the Marshals are “very proud of” but “that we wish we didn’t have.”
“As successful as this operation was there is a harsh reality here—the harsh reality is, ‘gee, why are we doing this in the first place? Why do we have missing, endangered children?’” he said. “The stats are that in every 40 seconds, there is a child abducted in the United States.”
The operation, a culmination of several months of planning, was carried out by the U.S. Marshals’ Service Missing Child Unit and its Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force, as well as a number of Georgia state and local agencies, including the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Mimi Nguyen-Ly contributed to this report.