The FBI has rescued 84 children including a three-month-old and a five-year-old in a nationwide trafficking sting.
Hundreds of law enforcement officers from the FBI and state and local task forces focused on child sex trafficking during a four-day national sting Oct. 12-15 dubbed “Operation Cross Country XI.”
It’s the 11th year the FBI has organized the rescue and so far, it has identified more than 6,500 child victims.
FBI Denver agents found the three-month-old and five-year-old. A “friend” of their family sold access to them for $600 to an undercover officer. The FBI has arrested the seller and is working with Child Protective Services to conduct a forensic interview and find a safe placement for them.
Calvin Shivers, special agent in charge of the FBI Denver office, says the primary goal of Operation Cross Country is to rescue children and provide them with victim services to get them back to their homes or integrated back into society via social services.
An FBI video shows a victim specialist working with an unidentified trafficking victim who had just been rescued. The agent tells the girl, “You’re OK. You’re not in trouble.” Often, traffickers will tell their victims that if they try to run away they’ll be arrested.
Anne Darr, an FBI victim specialist in Denver, says there’s a lot of complicated, nuanced work to do when victims are initially rescued as agents try to reassure them of their safety and understand their story.
Darr explained that agents are “trying to figure out what their background is. Are they runaways? Have they been in the system in foster care? What does their parent life look like? Do they have any support? Have they been in school?”
Shared Hope International is a non-profit that serves trafficking victims. It praised the latest sting but also cautioned that survivors face long-term recovery.
Shared Hope spokeswoman Susanna Bean told CBN News, “As a nation, we are vastly under-resourced when it comes to systems and organizations who are ready to respond with trauma-informed service. We hope this news re-energizes the US to invest in developing appropriate responses and systems for survivors.”
FBI agents and task force officers staged their operations in a variety of locations across the country including hotels, casinos, truck stops, street corners and internet websites.