Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement might be a preferred target of Democrats, and Homeland Security has of late been a punchline with Republicans due to its now-paused disinformation board. However, from late April to mid-May, ICE and Homeland Security partnered with other agencies to complete a task that not even the most diehard critic could assail.
According to a press release from ICE, a collection of federal, state, and local agencies – among them Homeland Security Investigations El Paso and the Texas Department of Public Safety – partnered for “Operation Lost Souls,” an effort in West Texas that resulted in the recovery of 70 missing children.
Homeland Security Investigations El Paso revealed that many of the children, who are between the ages of 10 and 17, were runaways and that some were victims of human trafficking and sexual or physical abuse.
“Operation Lost Souls exemplifies Homeland Security Investigations’ commitment to protecting the public from crimes of victimization,” HSI El Paso Deputy Special Agent in Charge Taekuk Cho said. “In this case, we are looking out for our children – our community’s most precious resource. 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.”
ICE reported that the children were from the counties of El Paso, Midland, Ector, and Tom Green. All four counties are part of the Permian Basin, a major oil and natural gas producing area that is home to cities like El Paso, Midland, Odessa, and San Angelo.
The children were primarily found within the West Texas region, but some were located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Colorado, and Northern Mexico.
The agencies provided victim services and counseling to the recovered children and their families.
Operation Lost Souls involved dozens of Texas-based local law enforcement agencies, which worked in conjunction to not only find the children but also uncover new leads that Homeland Security Investigators said will be investigated.
“At the Department of Public Safety, teamwork is one of our core values,” DPS Major Matthew Mull said. “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.”