A recent two-week nationwide campaign located 84 minor victims of child sex trafficking and exploitation offenses and also found 37 actively missing children, the FBI confirmed Monday.
Dubbed “Operation Cross Country,” the FBI-led initiative focused on “identifying and locating victims of sex trafficking and investigating and arresting individuals and criminal enterprises involved in both child sex and human trafficking,” the bureau stated in a news release.
In a prepared statement, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said that the U.S. Department of Justice is “doing everything in our power to combat the insidious crimes of human trafficking that devastate survivors and their families.”
“I am grateful to the dedicated professionals of the FBI and our law enforcement partners across the country for their tireless work to rescue trafficking survivors, including exploited children, to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of trafficking crimes, and to provide the services and support that survivors need and deserve,” Garland added.
According to the FBI, the average age of victims located in similar operations is roughly 15.5 years old, while the youngest victim discovered via Operation Cross Country was 11 years old.
In addition to the identification and location of adolescent victims, the FBI and its state and local partners located 141 adult victims of human trafficking. Agents and investigators also identified or arrested 85 suspects of child sexual exploitation and human trafficking offenses, the bureau stated.
“Human trafficking is among the most heinous crimes the FBI encounters,” FBI Director Christopher Wray stated.
“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 our most vulnerable populations,” he added.
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