Hundreds of juvenile victims of human trafficking were recovered and their pimps arrested during a nationwide operation that included the Los Angeles area, the FBI announced Tuesday.
Nationally, 149 victims were recovered and 153 pimps arrested in “Operation Cross County IX,” which concluded over the weekend, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
Between Wednesday and Saturday, three juvenile victims and three pimps were arrested in the Los Angeles area by FBI and U.S. Homeland Security agents working with detectives from the Los Angeles, Long Beach, Pomona and Claremont police departments, as well as the county sheriff’s, probation and children and family services departments, Eimiller said.
The youngest of the victims nationwide was 12 years old, according to Eimiller, who said multiple adult prostitutes and their customers were also arrested.
Several local non-governmental organizations, including the Dream Center, Saving Innocence and the Coalition Against Slavery and Trafficking, participated in the operation, Eimiller said.
The operation, which was spearheaded by the FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, spanned 53 FBI field offices and 73 child exploitation task forces, covering 135 U.S. cities, making it the largest operation since the initiative was launched nine years ago, according to the FBI.
“Combating the sex trafficking of minors is a commitment the FBI and many of our law enforcement partners make every day,” David Bowdich, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office said. “On a yearly basis, the coordinated effort made during ‘Operation Cross Country’ raises public awareness and highlights the need to collectively deal with this critical issue plaguing American cities and our youth.”
— Wire reports