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Dozens of Smith County residents accused of violating court orders to pay child support were arrested in a crackdown involving a coordinated effort of local and state law enforcement agencies.

Thirty-four people were arrested when 13 teams of law officers fanned out across the county in the predawn hours of Friday with arrest warrants, according to an announcement from the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

Law officers arrested offenders “before they had a chance to leave their homes for the day,” the news release said.

Those arrested can face up to six months in jail for violating court orders. When they pay bonds to secure their release from jail, the money goes to the custodial parents and children who are owed back child support, according to the announcement.

“Caring for your children is the fundamental moral responsibility of any parent,” Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a prepared statement. “I commend everyone involved in holding those who attempt to evade child support accountable. Their efforts help ensure better care and better lives for Texas children.”

The Smith County Sheriff’s Office, Smith County District Attorney’s Office, and Tyler, Lindale, Troup and Arp police departments executed the warrants. The Texas attorney general’s Child Support Division provided law officers information on the addresses of parents named in the arrest warrants.

The AG’s office praised the the roundup as a successful collaboration between city, county and state governments.

Parents who have fallen behind on their child support payments — but are not subject to warrants for their arrest — should contact the attorney general’s Child Support Division at 800-252-8014 to make payment arrangements, the announcement said.

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