The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has arrested 120 suspected child sex traffickers in partnership with officers from other Asian countries like Cambodia, Thailand and Philippines as well as Canada and the United Kingdom.
In the operation codenamed “Cross Country XI,” which focused on victims of prostitution who are underaged and ran from October 12-15, the FBI recovered 84 children victims with the help of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and its partners.
According to HuffPost, the average age of the victims was 15 while the youngest ever recorded was 3 months old.
Half of the arrests during the operation were reportedly made in Georgia. The FBI used hotels, casinos, truck stops, street corners and the power of the internet as the staging grounds to capture the child sex traffickers.
“We at the FBI have no greater mission than to protect our nation’s children from harm. Unfortunately, the number of traffickers arrested — and the number of children recovered — reinforces why we need to continue to do this important work,” FBI Director, Christopher Wray, said in a statement, NBC News reported.
“This operation isn’t just about taking traffickers off the street. 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.”
In one of the operations, the authorities recovered a 3-month-old child and her 5-year-old sister when a “pimp” offered the two to an undercover cop for $600.
An even younger child at 18 months old was presented to an undercover officer, who placed the toddler with the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services and arrested the mother.
“Child sex trafficking is happening in every community across America, and at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, we’re working to combat this problem every day,” said John Clark, the group’s president and CEO, who hoped the operation would generate “more awareness about this crisis impacting our nation’s children.”
All victims recovered from the operation, according to the FBI, will receive protective services from the states and the bureau’s Victim Services Division. They will also receive mental health and medical counseling if necessary.
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