Dozens of potential trafficking victims, including some children, were found in California during a two-week nationwide FBI operation, the agency said.
Operation Cross Country XII took place in the first two weeks of August and found more than 200 possible casualties, the FBI said in a press release. The operation involved the participation of local law enforcement and government agencies.
“The Justice Department is committed to doing everything in our power to combat the insidious crimes of human trafficking that devastate survivors and their families,” said Atty. Gene. Merrick Garland in the release.
The FBI’s Los Angeles Division reported that nine potential trafficking victims, including five children, were found, while the San Francisco Division found three adult victims and arrested three trafficking suspects. The San Diego Division found 17 victims, the agency said.
The Sacramento Division has not provided totals.
Nationwide, 141 adult victims and 84 child victims were found, and more than 80 human trafficking suspects were identified or arrested. In addition, 37 other children were found during the operation who had been reported missing, although they were not believed to have been victims of human trafficking.
The FBI reported that the average age of the victims was 15½, with the youngest being 11 years old.
“Human trafficking is one of the most heinous crimes the FBI has encountered,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in the press release. “Unfortunately, such crimes — against both adults and children — are far more common than most people realize.”