At the beginning of August, the Federal Bureau of Investigation launched "Operation Cross Country XII," a nationwide search for perpetrators and victims of sex trafficking. It was revealed that the youngest victim was only eleven years old.
On Monday, the results of the operation were revealed via news release. According to the FBI, eighty-four minor victims of child sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation offenses were located, along with thirty-seven actively missing children, and 141 adult victims of human trafficking.
In addition, eighty-five people suspected of child sexual exploitation and human trafficking offenses were identified or arrested. As the FBI explains, suspects will be subject to additional investigation before charged will be laid against them.
Operation Cross Country XII was conducted by FBI special agents, intelligence analysts, victim specialists, and child adolescent forensic interviewers, all of whom worked with 200 state, local, and federal partners and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
In total, 391 operations were conducted during the two-week period.
President and CEO National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Michelle DeLaune, lauded the operation's success, adding that it "reinforces what NCMEC sees every day."
"Children are being bought and sold for sex in communities across the country by traffickers, gangs and even family members," she said. "This national operation highlights the need for all child serving professionals to continue to focus on the wellbeing of children and youth to prevent them being targeted in the first place."
"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," Attorney General Merrick Garland said.
"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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