A newly concluded nationwide crackdown on child sex trafficking resulted in the rescue of eight juvenile potential victims of the crime in Los Angeles and Riverside counties and the arrests of “several” individuals, authorities announced Wednesday.
The multi-agency sweep — dubbed Operation Cross Country XI and conducted between Thursday and Sunday — led to the rescue of 84 minors across the country, according to the FBI. A total of 120 alleged child-sex traffickers were arrested during the effort, officials said. The suspects’ names were not immediately available.
The sweep was staged out of 55 FBI field offices, involved 78 state and local task forces and included personnel from Cambodia, Canada, the Philippines, Thailand and the United Kingdom.
“We at the FBI have no greater mission than to protect our nation’s children from harm,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said. “Unfortunately, the number of traffickers arrested and the number of children recovered reinforces why we need to continue to do this important work.”
As part of the operation, FBI agents and task-force officers staged investigations in hotels, casinos and truck stops, as well as on street corners and online.
The youngest victim recovered during this year’s crackdown was 3 months old, the FBI reported. The average age of recovered youths was 15, according to the federal agency.
Victims have been offered assistance from state protective services and the FBI’s Victim Services Division. Depending on levels of need, they are eligible for medical care, mental-health counseling and other forms of aid and support.
“This operation isn’t just about taking traffickers off the street,” Wray said. “It’s about making sure we offer help and a way out to these young victims who find themselves caught in a vicious cycle of abuse.”
Along with the FBI, law enforcement agencies including the Los Angeles and Riverside police departments and district attorney’s offices and sheriff’s departments in both counties also took part in the sweep.
Operation Cross Country is part of the FBI’s Innocence Lost National Initiative, which has yielded more than 6,500 victim identifications and recoveries since its inception in 2003, officials said.
–City News Service
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: