A nationwide operation against human trafficking led to the rescue of 84 children and arrests of 120, the FBI announced on Wednesday, Oct. 18.
The youngest victim was 3 months old, while the average age of the victims was 15.
The operation, called Cross Country, is running into its 11th year. This year it ran from Oct. 12-15.
“Unfortunately, the number of traffickers arrested—and the number of children recovered—reinforces why we need to continue to do this important work,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray in a press release. “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.”
The victims are offered medical and mental health counseling, as well as other services. More than 100 victim specialists provided on-scene services, including crisis intervention as well as food, clothing, shelter, and medical attention.
The case involving a 3-month-old was handled by FBI Denver. A family friend offered an undercover agent access to the infant and a 5-year-old for sexual purposes in exchange for $600. The subject was arrested and the situation of the children is being handled by Child Protective Services.
Another case was handled by FBI El Paso. An undercover agent called an online advertisement for entertainment. The agent then met a 21-year-old woman who offered sex with her and a 16-year-old girl for $200. The woman was arrested and so was another woman who drove the two to the agent’s location.
The Cross Country operation is part of an FBI initiative that has identified and rescued over 6,500 children since its inception in 2003.
This year, 55 FBI field offices participated together with 78 state and local task forces consisting of hundreds of law enforcement partners. It was also coordinated with partners in other countries including Canada, the United Kingdom, Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines.
Last year’s Cross Country operation led to the recovery of 82 children and the arrests of 239.