Authorities busted 21 individuals for taking part in a sex trafficking ring and rescued 10 women and girls in a multi-day, multi-agency operation in Fresno, California.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Fresno Police Department Vice Unit and Fresno County District Attorney’s Investigators spent days trying to pin down a child exploitation and human trafficking ring.
Undercover agents used internet sites frequently used to solicit sex with a minor to set up the perpetrators, according to KMPH. During the ‘Operation Stolen Hearts’ mission, authorities managed to rescue 10 women and girls from sex trafficking on June 23. (RELATED: ‘Operation Not Forgotten’: Police Recover 16 Children Believed To Be Sex Trafficking Victims In Atlanta)
The multi-agency effort also led to 21 arrests for multiple charges, including contacting a minor with intent to commit a sexual offense, aiding prostitution, arranging a meeting with a minor for lewd purposes and solicitation of acts of prostitution, according to ICE. Two of the individuals allegedly had illegal firearms.
The ten men shown in this photo are all accused pedophiles who were just arrested as part of the Fresno Police Department’s “Stolen Hearts” operation. The 11 not shown are minors and/or are charged with crimes but are getting assistance from a program called Breaking the Chains pic.twitter.com/9LW5QLjpmf
— Marie Edinger KMPH (@MarieEdinger) July 1, 2021
“HSI is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to safeguard our local communities,” Special Agent in Charge Tatum King, who oversees HSI operations in Northern California, said in a statement. “By working together, we will continue to identify these dangerous offenders and bring them to justice. Our combined efforts are vital to protecting young people from these heinous individuals.”