The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and its partner agencies found hundreds of sex trafficking victims, including dozens of child victims, during a two-week nationwide federal operation last month, officials announced on Tuesday.
Throughout “Operation Cross Country,” the FBI, along with its state and local partners, located 59 minor victims of child sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation. Authorities also found 59 missing children during the operation.
The FBI led the initiative in partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
“Behind every statistic, there is a person with dreams, aspirations, and the right to live a life free from child sex trafficking and exploitation. As a society we must work together to ensure the protection, support, and empowerment of those impacted by this heinous crime,” Michelle DeLaune, President and CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, said in a statement.
“We applaud the FBI and their partner law enforcement agencies for their unwavering dedication to protecting children. Their tireless efforts in combatting crimes against children sends a powerful message that child sexual exploitation will not be tolerated.”
According to the FBI, authorities launched targeted efforts to “identify and apprehend offenders, dismantling criminal networks and preventing further harm to victims.”
During Operation Cross Country, 126 suspects of child sexual exploitation and human trafficking were identified or arrested, and another 68 suspects of trafficking were identified or arrested.
“The FBI remains steadfast in its commitment to combatting child exploitation and human trafficking. Operation Cross Country is just one facet of the Bureau’s ongoing efforts to protect the most vulnerable members of society and hold offenders accountable. The FBI encourages continued vigilance, cooperation, and reporting from the public to help identify and recover victims and bring perpetrators to justice,” the bureau said in a statement.