Thirty-one children in North Texas were located, recovered or rescued during a recent month-long human trafficking operation, the Justice Department reported this week.

Operation Missing in the Metroplex" was a joint operation led by the U.S. Marshals Service and Homeland Security Investigations in partnership with local police in Arlington, Dallas, Fort Worth and Grand Prairie.

According to the DOJ, at least seven of the children rescued were considered "critically missing" with ties to sex trafficking. Sadly, some were found at the homes of "johns" or en route to sex work. It's absolutely heartbreaking to think about these children being exploited, but there's hope now that they've been rescued.

"The remaining 24 children were recovered from friends or relatives, reunited with their legal guardians, and removed from the missing children database," the DOJ reported.

Human trafficking is a worldwide problem, but it feels like Texas is primed to be a hotspot for it due to the I-35 corridor, our close proximity to an international border, and our huge metroplexes.

Statistics shared by the Texas Attorney General's Office indicate that there are an estimated 79,000 victims of youth and minor sex trafficking in our state at any given time. There are about 234,000 victims of labor trafficking in Texas at any given time as well.

If you spot or suspect human trafficking in your neighborhood (and yes, it can happen in your neighborhood) please call 9-1-1 or reach out to the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-3737-888. You can also text them with the word "HELP" or "INFO" at 233733, or email them at Report@PolarisProject.org.

The Texas Attorney General's Office website has more tips on how to spot human trafficking, common myths about it, and what you can do to help prevent it.

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