DALLAS - More than 30 missing children have been "located, recovered, or rescued" in Texas by federal authorities after a month-long operation, including several teenagers deemed "critically missing" with ties to sex trafficking.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas announced Wednesday the results of a Dallas-area investigation called "Operation Missing in the Metroplex," which said a total of 31 minors had been found.
At least seven teenagers suspected to be victims of sex trafficking were rescued, ranging in ages from 13 to 17, authorities said.
One teenager was found in an Uber during a prostitution ring, while another was found by Fort Worth Police at a "John’s" house, authorities said. Others were rescued through analysis on social media or tips, including information received through the local nonprofit 4theONE — which authorities said relayed "numerous tips that culminated in recoveries."
Two police vehicles with flashing blue lights are standing diagonally offset at a deployment site. (Photo by Tino Plunert/picture alliance via Getty Images)
The remaining 24 children were recovered from friends or relatives, reunited with their legal guardians, and removed from the missing children database, authorities said.
The investigation was led by the U.S. Marshals Service and Homeland Security Investigations. The federal agencies partnered with four local police departments – the Arlington Police Department, the Dallas Police Department, the Fort Worth Police Department, and the Grand Prairie Police Department – to locate the missing minors.
"These kids and teens represent some of our most vulnerable populations where adults try to prey on their innocence," said Arlington Chief of Police Al Jones. "We will not rest until every child is located safe and someone is held accountable."
The Justice Department records more than 420,000 reports of missing children each year.
This story was reported from Cincinnati.