84 minors and 141 adults rescued in FBI's national sex trafficking operation
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Featured Image Credit: FBI
The FBI has rescued more than 200 people including 84 children in a major national human trafficking operation.
As part of this year's Operation Cross Country mission, the FBI teamed up with federal agencies, state and local police and social services agencies in the US to identify and save people who had been trafficked, predominantly for sex exploitation.
In the first two weeks of August, they saved 84 children, 37 of which were registered as missing, as well as rescuing 141 adults.
Operation Cross Country is a coordinated operation among the #FBI, other federal agencies, state and local police, and social services agencies across the country to find and assist victims of human trafficking, particularly child victims. Learn more at https://t.co/NKzg6tnsv9. pic.twitter.com/gxqBRdn6kB— FBI (@FBI) August 15, 2022
In addition to locating those who'd been trafficked against their will, Operation Cross Country's goal is to gather intelligence, build criminal cases against the perpetrators and offer assistance to the victims.
Section Chief Jose Perez, who oversees violent crime investigations in the FBI, said in a statement released yesterday (15 August): "The initiative really just takes a concentrated period of time where we’re just focused on the problem of child sex trafficking.
"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."
A number of federal and state arrests have been made in the latest mission, including four traffickers in Atlanta and three in Tennessee.
The FBI explained that it expanded its operation this year to investigate sex traffickers who may be eligible for federal chargers and those trying to connect with minors online.
Data from the 2021 Federal Human Trafficking Report showed that 55 percent of sex trafficking victims have been recruited online since 2000.
Sam, a special agent who heads the crimes against children investigations at the Chattanooga office, explained: "With the advent of social media, access to mobile devices and technology... they’re out there in the neighborhoods not being monitored.
"And we don’t know if they’re going to have access to these communication devices to continue to exploit children online or have inappropriate physical contact with children."
Speaking about the results of the latest Operation Cross Country, Attorney General Merrick B Garland said: "The Justice Department is 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."
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