The FBI, along with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children rescued 84 children and arrested 120 traffickers on Wednesday, following a three-day intensive sting designed to focus in on the sex trafficking of minors.
The cross-country operation was conducted from Oct. 12 to Oct. 15, and involved 55 FBI field offices and partners in Canada, the United Kingdom, Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines. Their mission was to take down “pimps” who run human trafficking rings.
According to the FBI, operators staged “transactions” at hotels, casinos, truck stops, street corners and online, with more than half of the 120 pimp arrests made in Georgia.
Of the 84 children rescued, the average age of the victims was 15, with the youngest being only three months old. That baby was rescued in Denver, where she and a 5-year-old girl were being sold to an undercover officer for sex in exchange for $600.
The sting is part of a 2003 venture called the Innocence Lost National Initiative, which is responsible for finding and identifying 6,500 children since its inception.
“We at the FBI have no greater mission than to protect our nation’s children from harm, said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “Unfortunately, the number of traffickers arrested—and the number of children recovered—reinforces why we need to continue to do this important work.”
All of the victims retrieved in the operation will receive assistance from the state protective services and the FBI’s Victim Services Division. They’ll also be provided with medical care and mental health counseling if necessary.
Child sex trafficking is happening in every community across America and beyond. We have the power to put an end to the violence if we know what to look for, how to respond and where to be alert. And it starts with awareness.
To learn more about how you can get involved in the fight against child sex trafficking, visit www.wearethorn.org.