Earlier in July, the FBI embarked on an operation to arrest human traffickers and sex traffickers across the US. The operation that took one month, was the longest the department has launched compared with their previous operations that took only a weekend.
The operation dubbed “independence day” was carried out across the department’s 33 offices and involved 400 different agencies. The department allocated much time in planning for the operation following an initiative launched against sex trafficking by a collaboration between the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the FBI.
The crackdown has led to the arrest of 67 traffickers and recovered 100 victims. The victims, mostly children, have been rescued and taken to safer areas where there are being treated and rehabilitated.
The FBI is determined to rescue young girls from sex traffickers and pimps. The recovered children were of different ages, with teens as young as 15 years old. Several 21 years old were also rescued during the operation.
Some cities reported a higher number of rescued juveniles. Dallas and Las Vegas, for instance, reported the highest numbers.
According to the FBI, the department is looking to arrest and file cases against sex traffickers and rescue children from being exploited.
The initiative called “Innocence Lost” was launched 16 years ago has so far pinned down and prosecuted 2700 sex traffickers and rescued an estimated 6,600 juvenile victims.
The FBI says that the operation has no time limit and is ongoing all year long.
Operation Independence Day began as a multiple sting operations held on weekends known as operation cross country. It has so far been changed to Independence Day and is now more strategic and inclusive.
The operation involved the Agents tailing online sites that advertise juveniles for sex and those offering escort services. They followed up by setting fake meetups and interrogating the victims to account if they were underage or showed any signs of being exploited.
The FBI worked with the victims by assuring them that they had the resources and the connections to rescue them. By building a confidential agreement with the victim, the FBI then filed a case against the trafficker.
Part of the task force includes victim specialists. These specialists serve as intercessors between victims and detectives and can convince the victims that the bureau can provide help.
Most cases, however, involve victims who are financially driven to engage in sexual activities to make money.
One of the cases the FBI handled involved a juvenile boy who had advertised himself for money on social media. Even though he wasn’t arrested, the dangers of his actions were well laid before him.
According to victim specialists at the Denver office, the department must intervene by educating and creating awareness.
Human right activists and the public are betting operation Independence Day will catch up with more and more of these criminals who are driving minors into illicit sexual activities.
Author Bio: Electronic payments expert Blair Thomas is the co-founder of high risk payment processing company eMerchantBroker. He’s just as passionate about assisting businesses get an adult merchant account as he is with traveling and spending time with his dog Cooper.