UTAH — The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s three-day nationwide human trafficking sting operation concluded with the rescue of 82 sexually exploited juveniles and the arrests of 239 pimps and other individuals involved in exploiting children, including a girl found in Utah.
The 17-year-old girl had been brought to Utah from another state, according to the FBI. She was cared for by the Division of Child and Family Services until she could be returned to her family.
By the conclusion of the operation Saturday, officials said three Utah women were arrested on warrants and six others were cited for prostitution.
The coordinated effort, known as Operation Cross Country, involved 55 FBI field offices and 74 child exploitation task forces composed of more than 400 law enforcement agencies, according to a statement issued Monday by the FBI.
Among the 82 juveniles recovered in the U.S. were two sisters in Milwaukee, ages 16 and 17, who told authorities their mother was their pimp, officials said. The youngest recovered victim in the U.S. was 13 years old.
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children Director John Clark said Monday that the exploitation of children is a serious problem in the U.S.
“This is something that’s happening in communities all across the country,” Clark said in a statement. “We need moms and dads and teachers and neighbors and everybody working hand-in-hand to try to identify where this situation is happening so that we can bring the right resources to bear to fight child sex trafficking.”
The effort is part of the FBI’s Innocence Lost National Initiative, which began in 2003. Since its creation, according to the FBI, the program has resulted in the identification and recovery of more than 6,000 children from child sex trafficking.
“Operation Cross Country aims to shine a spotlight into the darkest corners of our society that seeks to prey on the most vulnerable of our population,” said FBI Director Comey during a press conference Monday in San Diego. “We are not only looking to root out those who engage in the trafficking of minors, but through our Office for Victim Assistance, we offer a lifeline to minors to help them escape from a virtual prison no person ever deserves.”
- FBI Violent Crimes Against Children Section
- FBI Office for Victim Assistance
- National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
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