EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — A multi-agency operation has led to the location of 78 missing minors.
The Las Cruces Police Department reports that a two-month operation resulted in the recovery or location of the missing minors in Dona Ana County on Wednesday.
According to a Facebook post from LCPD, “Operation Rescue Me” started on May 1 and included the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. Marshals Service worked alongside the New Mexico State Police, LCPD, Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office, Anthony Police Department, Sunland Park Police Department, the New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families Department, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, New Mexico Attorney General’s Office, and Deliver Fund, a nonprofit organization.
“Operation Rescue Me” focused on finding and recovering the missing children.
“This initiative to locate and rescue missing children addresses our most vulnerable population and will remain one of the priorities of the United States Marshals Service,” said Sonya K. Chavez, U.S. Marshal for the District of New Mexico. “The results of this operation are an example of the strong law enforcement partnerships and collaboration between many agencies and this is a key component in addressing this critical area.”
The recovered children range in age from 5 to 18 years old.
LCPD reports the following results:
- Three minors recovered
- 75 minors located
- Two minors remain outstanding
- The minors recovered and located were offered services that help identify the potential exploitation of at-risk children
The operation launched in May with a list of 80 missing minors, 31 of whom were listed as missing or runaways. LCPD reports that 30 of the 31 were cleared and removed from the National Crime Information System as a result.
Law enforcement located one minor living in Mexico over the course of the two-month operation; two investigations were initiated for sexual abuse of a child by relatives or friends of immediate family; while one investigation was conducted for human trafficking by Homeland Security Investigations Deming.
“We will remain committed to our mission of protecting the most vulnerable in our communities which include at-risk children who may come from difficult home environments, face homelessness, substance abuse, and online enticement. Increased risk factors contribute to a higher number of runaways which can become victims of sexual exploitation and human trafficking,” said Erik P. Breitzke, special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations El Paso. “HSI will continue to partner with local law enforcement to reduce the number of missing children and educate the community on this increasing problem in our society.”
For more information about HSI’s efforts to protect children from online sexual abuse, visit ice.gov/topics/iGuardians.
To report a crime, call 911 or (866) 347-2423.