FBI leads nationwide sex trafficking sting, rescues over 200 victims

The seal of the F.B.I. hangs in the Flag Room at the bureau's headquaters March 9, 2007 in Washington, DC.
The seal of the F.B.I. hangs in the Flag Room at the bureau's headquaters March 9, 2007 in Washington, DC. Photo credit Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
By , KCBS Radio

The Federal Bureau of Investigation's San Francisco office on Tuesday announced the results of a coordinated nationwide human trafficking sweep this month, which included dozens of arrests and the discovery of over 200 child and adult victims, some of which were in the Bay Area.

The agency, working with state and local partners for two weeks in August in what they called "Operation Cross Country," found 84 victims of child sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation offenses and located 37 actively missing children. In addition, they found 141 adult victims of human trafficking. The average age of the victims was 15.5 years old, with the youngest being 11.

Meanwhile, agents and investigators identified or arrested 85 suspects with child sexual exploitation and human trafficking offenses.

In the Bay Area, authorities recovered three of the adult victims, arrested three suspects and confiscated three firearms.

"Human trafficking is among the most heinous crimes the FBI encounters," said FBI Director Christopher Wray. "Unfortunately, such crimes – against both adults and children – are far more common than most people realize. As we did in this operation, the FBI and our partners will continue to find and arrest traffickers, identify and help victims, and raise awareness of the exploitation of our most vulnerable populations."

Human trafficking is defined by the federal government as "a crime whereby traffickers exploit and profit at the expense of adults or children by compelling them to perform labor or engage in commercial sex."

"Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg," FBI Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan, who runs the bureau's San Francisco and Sacramento offices, told KCBS Radio's Margie Shafer. He urged the public to come forward with information if they see suspicious activity.

"If you're just suspicious or there’s something that just doesn’t feel right, report it," he said, adding that the tips could lead to finding "the person’s identifiers, where they were last seen, who they were with, who may be trafficking them."

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