Nationwide child sex trafficking sting leads to 4 local arrests, - KMOV.com

Nationwide child sex trafficking sting leads to 4 local arrests, 1 victim rescued

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FBI Seal and Motto (Credit: KMOV) FBI Seal and Motto (Credit: KMOV)

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- The FBI announced Wednesday the rescue of 84 minors who were used in sex trafficking across the country.

FBI St. Louis' Child Exploitation Task Force rescued one 17-year-old girl and arrested four traffickers as part of the nationwide operation.

120 traffickers were arrested in total as part of Operation Cross Country XI.

“We at the FBI have no greater mission than to protect our nation’s children from harm. Unfortunately, the number of traffickers arrested—and the number of children recovered—reinforces why we need to continue to do this important work,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray in a release. “This operation isn't just about taking traffickers off the street. It's about making sure we offer help and a way out to these young victims who find themselves caught in a vicious cycle of abuse."

The operation involved 55 FBI field offices and 78 state and local task forces. It also involved international agencies from Canada, the United Kingdom, Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines.

Authorities staged operations in hotels, casinos, truck stops, and street corners, as well as multiple places online.

The average age of victims rescued was 15 years old. The youngest was just three months old.

“Child sex trafficking is happening in every community across America, and at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, we’re working to combat this problem every day,” said John Clark, president and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Since Operation Cross Country began in 2003, more than 6,500 child victims have been identified and located.

While the operation was a success, the work in local field offices continues year round.

“While Operation Cross Country is a focused and coordinated effort nationwide, our Child Exploitation Task Force, which includes local and state law enforcement partners, work tirelessly year round to rescue children from sex trafficking,” said Zachary Lowe, Acting Special Agent in Charge of FBI St. Louis.

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