The FBI, along with its state and local partners, freed 200 victims of sex trafficking in a nationwide enforcement campaign called Operation Cross Country. The operation also resulted in the identification or arrest of 126 suspects of child sexual exploitation and human trafficking offenses and 68 suspects of trafficking were identified or arrested.
Operation Cross Country achieved significant milestones by recovering victims, catching offenders, and raising public awareness about these terrible crimes. During the 2-week operation in July, the FBI and its partners found 59 minor victims of child sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation offenses, as well as 59 missing children who had been actively sought.
“Sex traffickers exploit and endanger some of the most vulnerable members of our society and cause their victims unimaginable harm,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “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.”
The FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) worked together on a nationwide initiative to find victims of sex trafficking, arrest people involved in child sex and human trafficking and take down criminal networks. Law enforcement targeted operations to catch offenders and prevent more harm to victims.
“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,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “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’s multidisciplinary team (MDT) is composed of victim specialists, child/adolescent forensic interviewers, and other personnel involved in victim services, along with special agents. This team ensures that investigations are victim-centered, culturally responsive, and trauma-informed. The FBI MDT collaborates with state and local partners to provide resources that cater to the unique needs of trafficking victims.
Victim specialists offer services that cater to the individual needs of human trafficking victims. These services include crisis intervention, emergency food and clothing, transportation to receive emergency services, and locating shelter or housing. Additionally, victim specialists act as a liaison between the victims and the investigative team, providing case updates as necessary.
“Behind every statistic, 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,” said NCMEC President & CEO Michelle DeLaune. “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.”
You can check out the police video from the operation below.