Law enforcement rescued more than 200 sex trafficking victims in a nationwide security sweep in July, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced Tuesday. More than 60 suspected traffickers and 126 suspects of child sex abuse and other trafficking offenses were arrested.
The rescues and arrests were the result of “Operation Cross Country,” an FBI-led, two-week national enforcement campaign now in its thirteenth year, the FBI statement noted. The initiative “is a coordinated operation among the FBI, other federal agencies, state and local police and social services agencies across the country to find and assist victims of human trafficking, particularly child victims,” per the statement.
The campaign also “located 59 minor victims of child sex trafficking and sexual exploitation, and another 59 children who had been reported missing,” the statement added. (RELATED: Couple Facing Charges For Springing Women Out Of Jail, Allegedly Forcing Them Into Sex Trade)
Through Operation Cross Country, the #FBI and partners achieved significant milestones in recovering victims, apprehending offenders, and raising public awareness about sex trafficking during a nationwide campaign. Learn more: https://t.co/5pRZOR3SAP pic.twitter.com/PB63awRvEj
— FBI (@FBI) August 1, 2023
“Human trafficking is a grave violation of human rights that preys on the most vulnerable members of our society. The FBI’s actions against this threat never waver as we continue to send our message that these atrocities will not be tolerated,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said, per the statement.
Regina Thompson, assistant director of the Victim Services Division of the FBI, described human trafficking as “a very complex, traumatic crime,” and highlighted the work of the division’s specialists in engaging with victims without further traumatizing them, per the statement.
The FBI mentioned the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) as an important partner in the campaign. “Behind every statistic, there is a person with dreams, aspirations, and the right to live a life free from child sex trafficking and exploitation,” said NCMEC President and CEO Michelle DeLaune, the statement noted.
Human trafficking is “a global, multibillion-dollar criminal empire; estimates vary from $32 billion to $150 billion per year,” according to an expert article published by the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin.