OAN’s Geraldyn Berry
5:39 PM – Tuesday, August 1, 2023
The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) have announced that in a nationwide sting operation known as “Operation Cross Country,” authorities have recovered more than 200 victims of human trafficking and missing individuals, 121 of whom were minors.
“Sex traffickers exploit and endanger some of the most vulnerable members of our society and cause their victims unimaginable harm,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement.
The FBI-led initiative, which was carried out for two weeks in collaboration with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), located 59 victims of child sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation, along with 59 missing children.
In addition, authorities were able to identify or arrest at least 126 suspects facilitating child sexual exploitation, along with 68 suspected human traffickers.
The campaign, according to federal officials, “focused on identifying and locating victims of sex trafficking and investigating and arresting individuals and criminal enterprises involved in both child sex and human trafficking.”
“The success of Operation Cross County 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,” said Michelle DeLaune, president and CEO of the center.
According to officials, the youngest victim was 11-years-old and the minors were, on average, around 15-years-old.
“Unfortunately, such crime – against both adults and children – are far more common than most people realize. As we did in this operation, the FBI and our partners will continue to find and arrest traffickers, identify and help victims, and raise awareness of the exploitation our most vulnerable populations,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said.
In 2021, more than half of all trafficking victims in the U.S. were minors, according to the Human Trafficking Institute.
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