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Authorities located 70 missing children following a three-week operation in West Texas.

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) out of El Paso, the Texas Department of Public Safety and multiple other federal, state and local investigators recovered the children as part of “Operation Lost Souls” from the end of April through mid-May.

The youngest child recovered in the Midland-Odessa area was 13 years old.

The remaining 30 children were scattered throughout other areas, including El Paso, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Colorado and Ciudad, Mexico. The children were between the ages of 10 and 17. Many were reportedly runaways.

Authorities reported recovering the majority of the children in West Texas but found some in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex as well as Colorado and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

“Operation Lost Souls exemplifies Homeland Security Investigations’ 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,” said HSI El Paso Deputy Special Agent in Charge Taekuk Cho. “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.”

HSI says different agencies have provided victim services and counseling to the children and their families since the results of the investigation were announced on May 25, which coincided with National Missing Children’s Day.

Special Agent in Charge Taekuk Cho urges anyone with information about a human trafficking victim or information about this type of crime to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888.

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