FBI Announces Major Rescue Of Human Trafficking Victims In ‘Operation Cross Country’

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Alyssa Blakemore Contributor
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The FBI announced Monday the rescue of 84 adolescent victims of child sex trafficking and exploitation crimes, along with the discovery of 37 missing children during a nationwide campaign.

The FBI-led initiative, Operation Cross Country XII, involved the coordinated efforts of FBI special agents, intelligence analysts, victim specialists, and child adolescent forensic interviewers alongside 200 state, local, and federal partners, according to a Department of Justice (DOJ) press release. Together with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), the FBI conducted a total of 391 operations in a two-week period, the release stated.

In addition to those minor victims rescued in the operation, the FBI and its partners also succeeded in locating 141 adult victims of human trafficking, according to the DOJ. Additionally, the agency identified and arrested 85 suspects accused of child sexual exploitation and human trafficking offenses. The average age of victims rescued in similar operations is 15.5 years old, while the youngest victim discovered during Operation Cross Country was 11, the DOJ said. (RELATED: US Marshals Say They Rescued 16 Missing Children, Some In Suspected Sex Trafficking Ring)

“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,” Michelle DeLaune, President and CEO National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

An estimated 24.9 million people are victims of trafficking worldwide, according to the Department of State. Traffickers in the United States coerce victims into commercial sex and forced labor in a variety of legal and illegal industries, the State Department reports.