The Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency says that 70 missing children have been rescued in areas covering the southwest region of the United States and northern Mexico.
Through the coordination of local, state, and federal authorities, working parts of Texas, Colorado, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, “Operation Lost Souls” successfully located runaways ranging from ages 10-17, according to an ICE press release.
The rescued children included “victims of sex trafficking, and physical and sexual abuse.”
“Operation Lost Souls” was in place for nearly four weeks and covered the end of April to the middle of May. The rescue announcement came on May 25, coinciding with “National Missing Children’s Day.”
Citing the ICE release, law enforcement agencies also provided counseling to the children and their families.
“Operation Lost Souls exemplifies Homeland Security Investigations’ [HSI’s] 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,” HSI El Paso deputy special agent Taekuk Cho said in the press release.
“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.”
Texas Department of Public Safety Major Matthew Mull says seamless teamwork was at the core of the “Lost Souls” mission.
“At the Department of Public Safety, teamwork is one of our core values,” said Mull. “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.”
Prior to last Wednesday’s announcement, law enforcement officials arrested eight individuals in connection with the abduction of a 15-year-old in Texas, who was allegedly being human trafficked during a Dallas Mavericks game on April 8.
According to officials, the girl allegedly separated from her father when using the restroom at American Airlines Center, and then was later seen leaving the arena with an unknown man. A few days later, the Texas Counter-Trafficking Initiative “found the girl’s nude photos displayed on a website associated with prostitution.”
However, through communication with other branches, police in Oklahoma City were able to recover the victim on April 18 — 10 days after her disappearance.
“We are thankful for the work of the Oklahoma City Police Department and the recovery of our daughter. My heart breaks for the unimaginable things my daughter had to endure for the (10-11) days she was taken, and I am so glad she is safe as we work toward her recovery,” the girl’s mother said in a May 5 statement.
Attorney Zeke Fortenberry, who represents the family, questioned how the male suspect who allegedly lured the girl from the arena was able to obtain a fraudulent NBA ticket.
“The systems and organizations involved in this case continually failed the victim. She should never have had contact with the man at the Mavericks game,” Fortenberry said. “This victim’s life will forever be changed.”
When speaking on The Daily Wire program “Candace” last year, featuring conservative host Candace Owens, Tim Ballard — a former Department of Homeland Security special agent and founder of “Operation Underground Railroad” — said that American citizens primarily drive the $150 billion global sex trafficking industry.
“The country with the highest demand is going to be the country most exposed to sexual material,” Ballard said.
“And so, what country is as large as the United States where everyone has access to the internet? None. So that’s my theory as to why the United States is the largest consumer.”
Reporting from Newsmax.