168 children were rescued and 281 pimps were arrested in a coast-to-coast crackdown on sex traffickers, according to.
The week-long operation, called “Cross County VIII,” was carried out across the U.S. in partnership with local law enforcement agencies and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. The operation took place in 106 cities across 54 FBI divisions, according to
“These are not faraway kids in faraway lands. These are America’s children,” stated FBI Director James Comey.
Comey added, “There is no more meaningful work that the FBI participates in than rescuing children.”
The FBI released a video of Nicole on Monday, who has been out of sex trafficking for six years now.
Comey stated that a concerning trend is the increasing number of children who are being prostituted online, according to
Some of the victims involved in sex trafficking in the U.S. were in the child-welfare system before they went missing, stated John Ryan of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which partnered with the FBI.
“Many of these children have been abandoned, often abused and neglected. Many of these traumatized children run away because they believe it’s the best option for them” said Ryan.
Some of the kids were not reported missing before they were rescued.
“Operation Cross Country reveals that children are being targeted and sold for sex in America every day,” added Ryan.
Targets of sex trafficking have typically included casinos, truck stops and websites advertising escort and dating services, as identified by local law enforcement.
The FBI reportedly uses the information gathered from these investigations to expand their search further and partner with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices to catch those running child-prostitution rings.
“Child sex traffickers create a living nightmare for their adolescent victims. They use fear and force and treat children as commodities of sex to be sold again and again. This operation puts traffickers behind bars and rescues kids from their nightmare so they can start reclaiming their childhood,” stated Leslie Caldwell, assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice.