Columbia, SC (WLTX) The Federal Bureau of Investigation, along with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), announced today that 84 minors were recovered and 120 traffickers were arrested as part of Operation Cross Country XI, a nationwide effort focusing on underage human trafficking that ran from October 12-15, 2017.
Based out of the Columbia Field Office, the FBI, working with our state and local partners, conducted operations in Myrtle Beach and Columbia.
According to the Columbia FBI field office no recoveries of minors were made in South Carolina
Participating agencies were the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division; Richland County Sheriff’s Office; Columbia Police Department; Myrtle Beach Police Department and Horry County Police Department.
“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. “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."
As part of Operation Cross Country XI, FBI agents and task force officers staged operations in hotels, casinos, and truck stops, as well as on street corners and Internet websites.
The youngest victim recovered during this year’s operation was 3 months old, and the average age of victims recovered during the operation was 15 years old. No victims were recovered in South Carolina.
Minors recovered during Cross Country Operations are offered assistance from state protective services and the FBI’s Victim Services Division. Depending on the level of need, victims are offered medical and mental health counseling, as well as a number of other services.
“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 NCMEC President and CEO John Clark. “We’re proud to work with the FBI on Operation Cross Country to help find and recover child victims. We hope OCC generates more awareness about this crisis impacting our nation’s children.”
Operation Cross Country XI is part of the FBI’s Innocence Lost National Initiative, which began in 2003 and has yielded more than 6,500 child identifications and locations. For additional information on Operation Cross Country XI and the Innocence Lost initiative, please visit www.fbi.gov.