The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), alongside its state and local partners, has rescued 200 victims of sex trafficking during Operation Cross Country XIII, the agency has announced.

The FBI located 59 minor victims of child sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation offenses and 59 actively missing children during its 2-week operation in July, the agency said.

The nationwide enforcement campaign also led to the identification or arrest of 126 suspects of child sexual exploitation and human trafficking offenses and the identification or arrest of 68 suspects of trafficking.

“Human traffickers prey on the most vulnerable members of our society, and their crimes scar victims – many of them children – for life,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray in a statement. “The FBI’s commitment to combatting this threat will never waver, and we will continue to send our message that these atrocities will not be tolerated.”

Operation Cross Country – now in its 13th year – is an annual coordinated law enforcement operation focused on finding and assisting victims of human trafficking, particularly child victims. The operation brings together the FBI, other federal agencies, state and local police, and social services agencies to coordinate their actions.

During last year’s Operation Cross Country, the FBI also rescued over 200 human trafficking victims, including 84 minor victims of child sex trafficking and 37 missing children.

“Behind every statistic, there is a person with dreams, aspirations, and the right to live a life free from child sex trafficking and exploitation,” said Michelle DeLaune, President and CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, after the end of Operation Cross Country XIII.

DeLaune added:

As a society we must work together to ensure the protection, support, and empowerment of those impacted by this heinous crime.

We applaud the FBI and their partner law enforcement agencies for their unwavering dedication to protecting children. Their tireless efforts in combatting crimes against children send a powerful message that child sexual exploitation will not be tolerated.

The deeply important issue of human trafficking has received increased attention lately, largely due to the Independence Day release of Angel Studios’ movie Sound of Freedom.

Sound of Freedom tells the true story of Tim Ballard, a former Homeland Security agent who founded the anti-human trafficking organization Operation Underground Railroad. To date, the movie has grossed over $151 million despite being produced on a small $14.5 million crowdfunded budget.

There are an estimated 27.6 million victims of human trafficking worldwide at any given time.

Therefore, the more light that shines on the dark and shadowed industry of human trafficking, the better.

The FBI and all other involved agencies and personnel should be greatly commended for their heroic efforts to rescue trafficking victims and bring perpetrators to justice.

Considering the agency’s recent and repeated targeting of pro-life individuals, it can be difficult for Christians to admire our modern FBI. The idea that the FBI has been weaponized against Christians and conservatives is not without merit.

Yet, many FBI agents and other law enforcement individuals continue to do immensely important work; Operation Cross Country is just one example. For that, they deserve our heartfelt gratitude.

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.

Related articles and resources:

FBI Victim Services Division  

FBI Crimes Against Children 

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) 

NCMEC’s 24/7 call center number: 1-800-THE-LOST (843-5678)

Human Trafficking: What You Need to Know

How to Fight Human Trafficking

Understanding the Scope of Human Trafficking

‘Operation Lost Souls’ Recovers 70 Missing Children, Victims of Sex Trafficking

‘Operation Carolina Homecoming’ Recovers Over 150 Missing Children

FBI Rescues Over 200 Trafficking Victims, Including 84 Children, in ‘Operation Cross Country’

Photo from Getty Images.