The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has rescued more than 200 victims of human trafficking as a part of a coordinated law enforcement operation.
According to a press release from the FBI, Operation Cross Country spanned the first two weeks of August, and led to 84 minor victims of child sex trafficking being located, along with 37 children who were missing. In addition, 141 adult victims were rescued. The youngest victim was 11 years old.
The FBI said that agents and investigators working on Operation Cross Country identified or arrested 85 suspects with child sexual exploitation and human trafficking offenses.
The operation involved the FBI, other federal agencies, state and local police, and various social services agencies.
The press release noted that there were around 200 federal, state and local agencies that partnered with the FBI on the operation. Law enforcement agencies conducted 391 operations over the two-week period.
“The initiative really just takes a concentrated period of time where we’re just focused on the problem of child sex trafficking,” said Section Chief Jose Perez, who oversees violent crime investigations in the FBI.
“What we do is we sit down with our local partners and our task forces and identify certain areas where we know sex trafficking is prevalent, and we’ll dedicate resources and efforts to identify and remove victims from those areas,” Section Chief Perez added.
In a statement following the operation, FBI Director Christopher Wray said, “Human trafficking is among the most heinous crimes the FBI encounters.”
“Unfortunately, such crimes—against both adults and children—are far more common than most people realize. As we did in this operation, the FBI and our partners will continue to find and arrest traffickers, identify and help victims, and raise awareness of the exploitation of our most vulnerable populations.”
The FBI released the following video explaining more about Operation Cross Country:
Although hard data is difficult to come by, the International Labor Organization estimates that there are hundreds of thousands of victims of human trafficking in the United States.
The men and women of the FBI, and other agencies and departments, who worked on Operation Cross Country deserve immense praise and thanks for their work rescuing victims and bringing about justice.
If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888). The Trafficking Hotline also connects victims and survivors of sex and labor trafficking with services they need to get help and stay safe.
To learn more about human trafficking, listen to Focus on the Family’s Broadcast, Human Trafficking: What You Need to Know. You’ll hear Linda Smith, President of Shared Hope International, discuss the trafficking of minors in the United States, how listeners can fight it and how parents can protect their children. To listen to the Broadcast, click here.
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