Good news: Law enforcement is winning the battle against heightened cases of human trafficking over the past few years.
Thanks to a surge in resources and task forces, federal and local law enforcement agencies have been able to arrest hundreds of perpetrators and rescue hundreds of victims, many of them minors.
The FBI issued a press release on Friday stating that a multi-day joint agency operation called “Lost Angels” led to the rescue of 33 missing children in Los Angeles, California this month.
The roughly 10-day operation, which began on January 11th, was led by the FBI, LAPD, LA County Sheriff’s Department, as well as dozens of other partners that helped “identify, locate, and recover missing children, particularly those who have been or were suspected of being sexually exploited and/or trafficked,” the release states.
At the time of the children’s recovery, “eight were being sexually exploited…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.”
“Several other victims located had been sexually exploited in the past and were considered vulnerable missing children prior to their recovery,” the report added.
The FBI’s press release about Operation Lost Angels describes the most disturbing fact that law enforcement’s increased efforts to combat human trafficking are driven by a surge in cases of missing children.
“The FBI caseload for both sex and labor trafficking-related crimes has increased significantly in the past several years. As of November 2020, there were more than 1,800 pending trafficking investigations, including those involving minors exploited through commercial sex trafficking.”
Just 664 of those human trafficking investigations opened from last year alone resulted in mass arrests of 473 perpetrators.
As of now, the FBI “leads 86 Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Forces” across America, “and participates in Anti-Trafficking Coordination (ATC) Teams in 12 offices, including in Los Angeles. The ATC Teams are intended to streamline coordination on the front lines of federal human trafficking investigations and prosecutions.”
We must put an end to what the LA County Sheriff calls “the vicious cycle of modern-day slavery.”
Operation Lost Angels t is the latest in a slew of human-trafficking busts that took place mostly on the East Coast over the past six months.
Since September, many operations conducted by U.S. Marshals resulted in hundreds of men arrested for soliciting or trafficking minors. Hundreds of children from Florida, Georgia, and Ohio were returned to safety thanks to the cooperation of several agencies.
Although human trafficking may be one of the most underreported issues of our time, law enforcement is treating it with utmost urgency as they work to save America’s children.