The FBI, working with its state and local partners, identified and located 200 victims of sex trafficking during a nationwide enforcement campaign called Operation Cross Country. The operation also led to identification or arrest of 126 suspects of child sexual exploitation and human trafficking offenses and 68 suspects of trafficking were identified or arrested.
Through targeted operations and collaborative efforts, Operation Cross Country achieved significant milestones in recovering victims, apprehending offenders, and raising public awareness about these heinous crimes. The FBI and its partners located 59 minor victims of child sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation offenses and located 59 actively missing children during its 2-week operation in July.
“Sex traffickers exploit and endanger some of the most vulnerable members of our society and cause their victims unimaginable harm,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “This operation, which located 59 actively missing children, builds on the tremendous work the FBI has undertaken over many years to rescue minor victims and arrest those responsible for these unspeakable crimes. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners across the country to prevent human trafficking; increase detection, investigation, and prosecution of human trafficking crimes; and expand support and services to protect and empower survivors.”
The FBI-led nationwide initiative, in partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), focused on identifying and locating victims of sex trafficking and investigating and arresting individuals and criminal enterprises involved in both child sex and human trafficking. Law enforcement agencies conducted targeted operations to identify and apprehend offenders, dismantling criminal networks, and preventing further harm to victims. Those suspects identified will be subject to additional investigation for potential charges.
“Human traffickers’ prey on the most vulnerable members of our society, and their crimes scar victims – many of them children – for life. The FBI’s commitment to combatting this threat will never waver, and we will continue to send our message that these atrocities will not be tolerated,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “This operation would not be possible without the commitment and collaboration from our state and local law enforcement partners, and it demonstrates our continued focus on actively pursuing the criminals responsible for these heinous violations and connecting those impacted with dedicated victim services and resources.”
A multidisciplinary team (MDT), to include victim specialists, child/adolescent forensic interviewers, and other victim service personnel, in addition to special agents, ensures a victim-centered, culturally responsive, trauma-informed investigative response. The FBI MDT works with state and local partners to make resources available to meet the unique needs of trafficking victims.
Victim specialists provide services based on the individual needs of human trafficking victims, to include crisis intervention, emergency food and clothing, transportation to receive emergency services, and locating shelter or housing. The victim specialists also serve as conduit between the victims and the investigative team to help ensure they are receiving case updates, as appropriate.
“Behind every statistic, there is a person with dreams, aspirations, and the right to live a life free from child sex trafficking and exploitation. As a society we must work together to ensure the protection, support, and empowerment of those impacted by this heinous crime.” said NCMEC President & CEO Michelle DeLaune. “We applaud the FBI and their partner law enforcement agencies for their unwavering dedication to protecting children. Their tireless efforts in combatting crimes against children sends a powerful message that child sexual exploitation will not be tolerated.”
The FBI remains steadfast in its commitment to combatting child exploitation and human trafficking. Operation Cross Country is just one facet of the Bureau’s ongoing efforts to protect the most vulnerable members of society and hold offenders accountable. The FBI encourages continued vigilance, cooperation, and reporting from the public to help identify and recover victims and bring perpetrators to justice.
- Victim Services Division
- Crimes Against Children
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)
- NCMEC’s 24/7 call center number: 1-800-THE-LOST (843-5678)