The FBI rescued more than 200 sex trafficking victims, including 84 children, in a nationwide effort called Operation Cross Country.
Law enforcement agencies in the United States got involved, finding 37 children who were actively missing and 141 adult victims, according to the FBI.
The youngest victim rescued was just 11 years old, officials say.
FBI Director Christopher Wray called the sex trade “one of the most heinous crimes” faced by the agency in a statement about the sweep.
“Unfortunately, crimes like this — against both adults and children — are far more common than most people realize,” Wray said.
“As we have done with this operation, the FBI and our partners will continue to find and arrest traffickers, identify and assist victims, and raise awareness of exploitation [of] our most vulnerable populations.”
More than 200 state, local and federal partners, as well as the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, participated in 391 surgeries over a two-week period this month.
And it led investigators to identify or arrest 85 people suspected of child sexual exploitation and human trafficking, authorities say.
“The Justice Department is committed to doing everything in its power to address the insidious crimes of human trafficking that are devastating survivors and their families,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said of the operation.
The FBI Atlanta operation alone found 19 missing children and led to the arrest of four human traffickers.
“The initiative really just needs a focused period of time where we just focus on the problem of child sex trafficking,” said FBI senior investigator Jose Perez, who oversees violent crime investigations.
“We are sitting down with our local partners and our task forces and identifying specific areas where we know sex trafficking is rampant and we will direct resources and efforts to identify and remove victims from those areas.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/crime/fbi-sex-trafficking-victims-rescue-b2147276.html FBI rescues more than 200 sex trafficking victims, including 84 children