The Federal Bureau of Investigation has helped locate and assist more than 200 sex trafficking victims across the country in the last two weeks, and nine of those victims were found in Los Angeles County. Five of those victims were adolescents.
On Wednesday morning, the FBI Los Angeles Division announced the local results of Operation Cross Country—a coordinated operation involving the FBI partnering with about 200 federal, state, and local agencies, including the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
“This year’s operation underscores the FBI’s commitment to protecting the communities we serve from those who seek to victimize the most vulnerable among us,” Amir Ehsaei, assistant director in charge of the FBI Los Angeles Division, said in a press release Wednesday.
Ehsaei continued, “Human trafficking and child exploitation are insidious crimes, and the impact on victims is immeasurable. However, with strong partnerships forged between outstanding service providers and law enforcement, we can ensure victims receive the services they need, and the perpetrators of such unspeakable activity are brought to justice.”
The agency did not release the identities of any victims or suspects connected to the two-week, nationwide sting.
Overall, the FBI reported that 391 local operations in the two-week period led to the location of 37 missing children, 84 victims under the age of 18, and 141 adult victims. As a result, at least 85 suspects are facing charges of human trafficking or the sexual exploitation of children.
“The initiative really just takes a concentrated period of time where we’re just focused on the problem of child sex trafficking,” Section Chief Jose Perez, who oversees violent crime investigations in the FBI, said in an separate release about the operation. “What we do is we sit down with our local partners and our task forces and identify certain areas where we know sex trafficking is prevalent, and we’ll dedicate resources and efforts to identify and remove victims from those areas.”
Agencies in the L.A. area that assisted the FBI Los Angeles Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force include the Los Angeles Police Department, Inglewood Police Department, Pomona Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office, Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, Santa Maria Police Department, and Department of Children and Family Services.
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