A multi-day operation by multiple agencies found 33 missing children in southern California, many of whom were sexually exploited.
The FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office announced the success of “Operation Lost Angels” on Friday, saying the operation began on January 11 and involved “more than two dozen partner agencies,” including law enforcement and non-governmental agencies.
“Of the 33 children recovered, eight were being sexually exploited at the time of recovery. 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. It is not uncommon for victims who are rescued to return to commercial sex trafficking either voluntarily or by force, fraud, or coercion. This harmful cycle highlights the challenges victims face and those faced by law enforcement when attempting to keep victims from returning to an abusive situation. Victims may not self-identify as being trafficked or may not even realize they’re being trafficked,” the FBI stated. “Several other victims located had been sexually exploited in the past and were considered vulnerable missing children prior to their recovery. Additionally, the operation resulted in the arrest on state charges of one suspected human trafficker and the opening of multiple investigations. Some of the minor victims were arrested for probation violations, robbery, or other misdemeanors. One child was a victim of a noncustodial parental kidnapping.”
The FBI said that, as of November 2020, the bureau had more than 1,800 open trafficking investigations and leads 86 Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Forces across the country.
“The FBI considers human trafficking modern day slavery and the minors engaged in commercial sex trafficking are considered victims,” said Assistant Director in Charge Kristi K. Johnson. “While this operation surged resources over a limited period of time with great success, the FBI and our partners investigate child sex trafficking every day of the year and around the clock.”
As The Daily Wire previously reported, operations similar to “Lost Angels” have found hundreds of missing children who have been sexually exploited across the U.S. In August 2020, U.S. Marshals rescued 26 children in the state of Georgia after a two-week operation. In October, 45 missing children were found in southern Ohio and southern West Virginia as part of operation “Autumn Hope.” That operation resulted in the arrests of 179 people. In November, 27 missing children were found in Virginia after a five-day operation.
“The Department of Justice is dedicated to protecting the most vulnerable children in our society and ‘Operation Find Our Children’ does just that,” Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen said in a press release at the time. “While this Virginia operation is the most recent recovery of endangered and missing children led by the U.S. Marshals Service this year, we have also recovered more than 440 kids in Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, Louisiana and other states. Because of this initiative, the recovered children are now out of harm’s way.”
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