news fbi operation targets sex traffickers 85 arrests 262 victims located in nationwide sting
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FBI operation targets sex traffickers: 85 arrests, 262 victims located in nationwide sting

sex trafficking
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A nationwide sex trafficking interdiction operation located 141 adult victims and 84 minor victims of sex trafficking and 37 missing children, the FBI announced today.

Operation Cross Country identified or arrested 85 suspects with child sexual exploitation and human trafficking offenses. Those suspects identified will be subject to additional investigation for potential charges.

The average age of victims located during this year’s Operation Cross Country was 15.5, while the youngest victim discovered was 11 years old.

“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 B. 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.”

“Human trafficking is among the most heinous crimes the FBI encounters,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “Unfortunately, such crimes—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 of our most vulnerable populations.”

As part of Operation Cross Country, FBI special agents, intelligence analysts, victim specialists and child adolescent forensic Interviewers working in conjunction with over 200 state, local, and federal partners and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children conducted 391 operations over the two-week period.

“The success of Operation Cross Country 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 National Center for Missing & Exploited Children “We’re proud to support the FBI’s efforts to prioritize the safety of children. 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 from being targeted in the first place.”

FBI agents in the Norfolk Division office worked with law enforcement partners from the Chesapeake Police Department and Virginia Beach Police Department and arrested three suspects on child exploitation charges during operations that ran from Aug. 4-7.

“Children are our most precious and vulnerable resource and protecting them from individuals who seek to exploit them remains one of this office’s priorities. Norfolk’s operations took place over three days, and we arrested three suspects. Our team is small, but we pack a big punch. The FBI, through our Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force, will continue to work tirelessly to protect our nation’s children,” said Special Agent in Charge Brian Dugan.

Victim specialists provide a “bridge” for victims who are wary of the system, help the victim establish positive relationships with law enforcement, and ensure the human trafficking victim population receives any appropriate resources available to them. Victim specialists also provide services based on the individual needs of human trafficking victims, to include crisis intervention, emergency food and clothing, transportation to receive emergency services, and locating shelter or housing.

The task forces in the recent operation included federal, state, local and tribal partners, with efforts in every state and even a few U.S. territories.

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