KLFY—A total of 82 minors were rescued and 239 traffickers and their associates were arrested in a 4-day operation, according to the FBI.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, along with representatives from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and several international law enforcement partners announced that the arrests took place from Oct. 13 to the 16.
‘Operation Cross Country X’ was an international effort which focused on underage human trafficking. This year’s operation is the largest to date in the history of the initiative, with 55 FBI field offices and 74 Child Exploitation Task Forces representing more than 400 law enforcement organizations taking part in the operation, according to the FBI.
“…there are people who spend every day worrying about how to rescue these children. They are true heroes.” -FBI Director James Comey
According to CBS affiliate WWL, 45 of those arrested in the sting were in Louisiana during the recent crackdown.
“Operation Cross Country aims to shine a spotlight into the darkest corners of our society that seeks to prey on the most vulnerable of our population,” said FBI Director Comey. “As part of this effort, we are not only looking to root out those who engage in the trafficking of minors, but through our Office for Victim Assistance, we offer a lifeline to minors to help them escape from a virtual prison no person ever deserves.”
The FBI stated that operations took place in a number of locations which included hotels, truck stops, and street corners.
Officials said minors recovered during an arrest are engaged with state protective services and victim assistance. Depending on the level of need, a law enforcement officer and, if available, an FBI victim specialist will accompany the survivor to obtain these services.
In addition, several dozen operations across Canada, and approximately 10 operations took place in six cities across Cambodia, Thailand, and the Philippines.
In Canada, as part of a corresponding effort called ‘Northern Spotlight’, authorities recovered 16 children, while in Cambodia, Thailand, and the Philippines, authorities recovered 25 children, including a 2-year-old girl.
“Child sex trafficking is a global problem and we must throw every resource we can at combating it,” said NCMEC Director John Clark.
Operation Cross Country X is part of the FBI’s Innocence Lost Initiative, which began in 2003 and resulted in the identification and recovery of more than 6,000 children from child sex trafficking, and prosecutors have obtained 30 life sentences in cases against traffickers and their associates.
For additional information on Operation Cross Country X and the Innocence Lost initiative you can visit fbi.gov.