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84 Children, 141 Adult Sex Trafficking Victims Rescued in National FBI Operation

FBI agents and investigators rescued 84 children, 141 adults, and identified or arrested 85 suspects of human trafficking in a nationwide operation.

By August 24, 2022No Comments

The FBI, working with its state and local partners during two weeks in August, announced in a press release that they identified and located 84 minor victims of child sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation offenses and located 37 actively missing children during a nationwide enforcement campaign, dubbed “Operation Cross Country.”

“The Justice Department is committed to doing everything in our power to combat the insidious crimes of human trafficking that devastate survivors and their families,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in the release.

“I am grateful to the dedicated professionals of the FBI and our law enforcement partners across the country for their tireless work to rescue trafficking survivors, including exploited children, to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of trafficking crimes, and to provide the services and support that survivors need and deserve,” Garland said.

Related: 5 Myths You’ve Probably Heard About Child Sex Trafficking

The FBI-led nationwide initiative 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.

“Human trafficking is among the most heinous crimes the FBI encounters,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “Unfortunately, such crimes—against both adults and children—are far more common than most people realize. As we did in this operation, the FBI and our partners will continue to find and arrest traffickers, identify and help victims, and raise awareness of the exploitation our most vulnerable populations.”

In addition to the identification and location of adolescent victims, the FBI and its partners say they located 141 adult victims of human trafficking.

Related: How OnlyFans Reportedly Facilitates and Profits from Child Sex Trafficking

Agents and investigators also identified or arrested 85 suspects of child sexual exploitation and human trafficking offenses. Those suspects identified will be subject to additional investigation for potential chargers. The average age of victims located in similar operations is approximately 15.5 years old, while the youngest victim discovered during this operation was 11 years old.

By the numbers: child sex trafficking

How common is child sex trafficking, really? Well, did you know that child sex trafficking occurs in all 50 states?

That doesn’t mean there are hundreds of thousands of kids being abducted and trafficked daily, though, while it does mean child trafficking often hides in plain sight.

For the sake of victims, we think it’s important to focus on the facts, research, and their lived experiences. Here are responsibly-sourced stats regarding sex trafficking as it exists in today’s world, resources for parents to help keep their kids safe, and experiences of real victims.

Related: Why LGBTQ+ Youth Disproportionately Experience Sexual Exploitation

1. According to the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, 78% of reported child sexual abuse images depicted prepubescent children under the age of 12, and 63% of those children were under 8. (Canadian Centre for Child Protection)

2. Of the approximately 24.9 million victims of forced labor, about 4.8 million—about 19%—are trafficked for sex. Even more disturbingly, a little less than a quarter—an estimated 21%—of all sex trafficking victims are children. (ILO)

3. Though child sexual abuse material (CSAM) is a global issue, the United States remains one of the largest producers and consumers of child abuse content in the world. (Thorn)

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4. “People [would] rather believe that trafficking exists outside of [their] daily lives, where the elite roam. However, the reality is that trafficking exists in our own neighborhoods… Trafficking typically occurs after years of grooming and coercion and it takes place in almost every community in the United States. Almost every survivor I worked with considered their trafficker to be their boyfriend at some point in their lives,” said Mary Bianculli, trafficking survivor case worker

5. Of domestic minor sex trafficking victims, 1 in 6 began being trafficked under the age of 12. (Thorn)

6. Almost half (45%) of domestic minor sex trafficking victims are African American. 27% are Caucasian, 21% Hispanic, and 8% “other.” (Thorn)

Related: Alia’s Story: Child Sex Trafficking Led Me Into the Mainstream Porn Industry (VIDEO)

7. According to the cumulative findings of multiple studies and reports, a significant number of sex trafficking victims (3-36%) are trafficked by family members, and 27-60% of victims are trafficked by their “boyfriends.” (World Without Exploitation)

8. Of the trafficking victims who had been forced into porn production, the average age they began being filmed was 12.8 years old. (Thorn)

9. Of the more than 23,500 endangered runaways reported to NCMEC in 2019, one in six were likely victims of child sex trafficking. (NCMEC)

10. Technology is increasingly a part of grooming and trafficking. According to the research of victims who were trafficked in 2015, over half (55%) met their traffickers through the use of technology (i.e. online enticement, texting, app usage). (Thorn)

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Who can become a child trafficking victim?

While any child can become a victim of trafficking, research has shown that traffickers often target children with increased vulnerabilities, such as: 

    • Children who are chronically missing or who frequently run away (especially 3+ missing incidents)
    • Children who have experienced childhood sexual abuse, especially if the abuse was unreported or unaddressed, or resulted in the child being removed from the home
    • Children who have experienced prior sexual assault or rape
    • Children with significant substance abuse issues or who live with someone who has significant substance abuse issues
    • Children who identify as LGBTQ and have been kicked out or who have been stigmatized by their family. (NCMEC)

Whenever you see something suspicious, report it. If a child is missing, the child’s legal guardian should immediately call law enforcement and then the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST® (1-800-843-5678).

If you suspect a case of child sex trafficking, you can call 1-800-THE-LOST® or make a report at CyberTipline.org.

Related: 15 Stats You Need to Know If You Care About Ending Child Sex Trafficking

NCMEC’s Cybertipline:

    • 65 Million—the number of reports of child sexual abuse material NCMEC’s Cybertipline has received
    • 312 Million—the number of potential child sexual abuse images that have been reviewed by the Child Victim Identification Program
    • 18,900+—the number of victims of identified by law enforcement

Together, we can stop the demand for human exploitation and child sex trafficking.

To learn more about how pornography and human sex trafficking are connected, read this article.

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