An FBI-led multi-agency anti-human trafficking operation rescued thirty-three missing children in southern California. The dramatic news came off Friday in a press release.
On January 11, Operation Lost Angels launched an investigation and found 33 “vulnerable missing children.” The feds said that eight of the children were sexually exploited when law enforcement saved them.
“Two were recovered multiple times during the operation while on the ‘track,’ a common term used to describe a known location for commercial sex trafficking,” said the FBI.
“It is not uncommon for victims who are rescued to return to commercial sex trafficking either voluntarily or by force, fraud, or coercion.”
The news release stated that such a harmful cycle highlights the challenges that the victims face and the law enforcement’s attempt to keep them from going back to the abusive condition.
“Victims may not self-identify as being trafficked or may not even realize they’re being trafficked.”
A suspected human trafficker was arrested in operation, now facing state charges. It was later found out that a parent unlawfully kidnapped one of the minors.
“The FBI considers human trafficking modern-day slavery, and the minors engaged in commercial sex trafficking are considered victims,” said FBI assistant director Kristi K. Johnson.
The FBI conducted 664 human trafficking investigations in 2020 across the country that has resulted in the arrests of 473 suspects.
Operation Lost Angels, executed during Human Trafficking Awareness Month, has more than two dozen law enforcement departments, including the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles Police Department, California Highway Patrol, United States Marshal’s Service, and San Diego Police Department.
US Marshals have long been active in successful operations to locate missing children in the previous year. Twenty-seven children were rescued in Virginia during the “Operation Find Our Children” in November.
Forty-five missing and endangered children in West Virginia and Ohio were recovered during “Operation Autumn Hope” in October. The Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force arrested 179 human traffickers in operation.
Eleven children were also rescued in New Orleans on October 1, with two identified to be in “extreme danger.”
Thirty-five children were found during “Operation Safety Net” in Ohio on September 21.
The US Marshals implemented “Operation Triple Beam” to decrease violent gang crime in Oklahoma City for 60 days starting September 17. About 262 arrests were made, and five missing children were located.
Eight “highly endangered” missing children were also rescued on September 4 during “Operation Homecoming.”
Thirty-nine children were discovered in “Operation Not Forgotten” on August 27 in Georgia and Florida. Fifteen of the children identified as victims of sex trafficking.