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31 missing children found by US Marshals, DHS and local police in Texas

United States Marshals entering a building. (United States Marshals Service/Released)
March 11, 2021

Over two dozen missing children were found in Texas following a weeks-long operation conducted through a partnership between federal agencies and local law enforcement.

During the joint effort called “Operation Missing in the Metroplex,” 31 children were located by the U.S. Marshals Service, Homeland Security Investigations, and police departments in Grand Prairie, Arlington, Fort Worth and Dallas, NBC DFW reported Thursday.

Of the 31 children found, 24 were recovered from friends or relatives before being reunited with their legal guardians. The children located were removed from the missing children database.

Police said at least seven of the children, some just 13 years old, had been forced into sex trafficking.

“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.”

According to the Department of Justice, around 420,000 children are reported missing every year. Garcia said the collaborative effort is necessary and ongoing if they are going to locate more missing minors.

“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.”

Last week, Sen. Rob Portman, the top Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, warned the Biden administration’s policies at the U.S.-Mexico border could exacerbate the crisis of child exploitation.

“Each day brings new reports of a surge of arrivals at the U.S. southern
border, which we know will increase the risk of trafficking in persons,
especially for unaccompanied children arriving in greater numbers,” Portman said in a statement. “I urge the Biden administration to ensure that these children do not fall victim to human trafficking, abuse, or other harm.”

Portman’s warning was based on reports that three separate committee investigations revealed several administrations made “concerning failures” when it came to tracking and keeping unaccompanied migrant children safe after they were released by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement, the Washington Examiner reported.

Over 3,200 migrant children were being held in Border Patrol facilities on Monday, and almost 1,400 have been held in Customs and Border Protection facilities beyond the 72-hour legal limit, according to documents obtained by the New York Times.