In the month of July, the Federal Bureau of Investigation successfully rescued just over 100 victims of sex trafficking across the United States.
The FBI identified or recovered 103 juveniles in total and arrested 67 traffickers, according to a press release issued this week by the federal agency. The crackdown, titled “Operation Independence Day,” relied on the work of more than 400 agencies partnering with the FBI Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Forces in each of the bureau’s 56 field offices.
Christopher Wray, director of the FBI, said the agency is “fiercely focused on recovering child victims and arresting sex traffickers who exploit them.” He added, “Through operations like this, the FBI helps child victims escape the abusive life of sex trafficking.”
The undertaking resulted in 161 nationwide operations and the initiation of 60 federal cases. A majority of the recoveries and identifications came from Las Vegas (14) and Dallas (13).
According to the FBI’s press release, “recovered” is defined as “the removal of the child from ongoing, continued victimization.” An “identified” victim is an individual “who may not currently be in a sex trafficking situation but one who has been victimized in the past or whose prior victimization is unknown or someone who is being trafficked but is afraid to disclose that information to law enforcement.”
The goal, according to Jeanette Milazzo, a special agent who led one of the Houston field office’s task forces, is “to rescue children” and “build good cases against traffickers.”
“If we have developed enough rapport with the victim,” she said, “we build a case against their trafficker and hopefully charge them in federal court.”
Wray praised the work of those involved in Operation Independence Day, saying FBI officials and victim specialists “work tirelessly before, during, and after these operations to make sure that victims get the help they need to reclaim their lives.”
For more information about the successful initiative, click here.