The Sound of Freedom? FBI finds 200 sex trafficking victims, including children, in recent operation

black car on road during night time by Kenny Eliason is licensed under Unsplash
WASHINGTON, DC – The FBI recently announced the conclusion of a nationwide operation, dubbed Operation Cross Country, which targeted victims and suspects of sex trafficking throughout the country. The federal agency announced they were able to locate over 200 victims of sex trafficking and determine the identification or arrest of almost 200 people.

All law enforcement agencies work diligently to identify and stop sex trafficking every day. Yet, very few law enforcement agencies have had the success that the FBI’s recent operation, Operation Cross Country, has seen in a two-week operation in July of 2023.

The operation was designed to not only arrest and prosecute those responsible for the crime, but also to work on identifying and, in some cases, rescue victims, some of whom were children. In all, the FBI and other law enforcement partners were able to locate “59 minor victims of child sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation offenses and located 59 actively missing children” during the two weeks the operation was active.

The FBI partnered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, (NCMEC), and several other local and state law enforcement agencies in their attempts to locate and identify victims and those accused of the crime. The FBI noted that they used “targeted operations” to dismantle “criminal networks,” and prevent “further harm to victims.”

According to United States Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, “Sex traffickers exploit and endanger some of the most vulnerable members of our society and cause their victims unimaginable harm. This operation, which located 59 actively missing children, builds on the tremendous work the FBI has undertaken over many years to rescue minor victims and arrest those responsible for these unspeakable crimes.

“We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners across the country to prevent human trafficking; increase detection, investigation, and prosecution of human trafficking crimes; and expand support and services to protect and empower survivors.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray noted his agency’s commitment in saving children and others from being victimized in this manner. He said, “Human traffickers’ prey on the most vulnerable members of our society, and their crimes scar victims – many of them children – for life. 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.

“This operation would not be possible without the commitment and collaboration from our state and local law enforcement partners, and it demonstrates our continued focus on actively pursuing the criminals responsible for these heinous violations and connecting those impacted with dedicated victim services and resources.”

The FBI noted that their work is far from over, as they will now comb through every piece of evidence to determine if those arrested have committed other crimes for which they have yet to be charged.

Additionally, they are focused on ensuring that the victims that have been saved from this atrocity are being provided victim services to help them through the process of healing physically and emotionally.
NCMEC President and CEO Michelle DeLaune thanked the FBI and other law enforcement agencies in their efforts at combating this type of crime and saving all of these victims from continued abuse. She also noted that the work in helping the victims of these crimes are far from over simply because an arrest is made and/or a person has been saved.

“Behind every statistic," DeLaune said, "there is a person with dreams, aspirations, and the right to live a life free from child sex trafficking and exploitation. 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 sends a powerful message that child sexual exploitation will not be tolerated.”
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