Law enforcement rescue 84 victims of child sex trafficking

Demonstrators in Keene, New Hampshire, gather at a 'Save the Children Rally' to protest child sex trafficking and pedophilia around the world, on September 19, 2020.
Demonstrators in Keene, New Hampshire, gather at a "Save the Children Rally" to protest child sex trafficking and pedophilia around the world, on September 19, 2020. | AFP via Getty Images/Joseph Prezioso

The FBI has found 84 minors who were victims of child sex trafficking, as well as 37 other missing children, as part of a nationwide operation.

On Monday, the Justice Department announced the results of “Operation Cross Country XII,” which involved FBI agents working with local authorities to locate 121 missing children.

The operation involved the FBI working with 200 state, local and federal partners, as well as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, for more than two weeks.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement that the DOJ was “committed to 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,” he added.

In addition to the missing and exploited children that were located, authorities also reported locating 141 adult victims of trafficking and arresting 85 suspects of child sexual exploitation and human trafficking offenses.

Operation Cross Country was originally created in 2003 as part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative by the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division, in partnership with the DOJ and NCMEC.

In July 2013, Operation Cross Country VII led to 152 sex traffickers being arrested and 106 children being rescued over a 72-hour period in 76 cities across the U.S.

"Child prostitution remains a persistent threat to children across America," said Ronald Hosko, the FBI's assistant director of the Criminal Division, back in 2013.

"This operation serves as a reminder that these abhorrent crimes can happen anywhere, and the FBI remains committed to stopping this cycle of victimization and holding the criminals who profit from this exploitation accountable."

In April, the U.S. Marshals Service Eastern District of Louisiana New Orleans Task Force announced that its agents had successfully located 16 missing children.

Known as “Operation Fresh Start,” the anti-trafficking mission was conducted from Jan. 1 through March 31 and involved five arrests, plus ongoing efforts to pursue four other suspects. 

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