82 children rescued nationally in international sex slavery ring - WNEM TV 5

82 children rescued nationally in international sex slavery ring

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More than 80 children were rescued nationally as part of an international human trafficking ring.

The crime organization was shut down earlier this month and stretched from Thailand to the United States. 

On Monday, Oct. 17, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and several international law enforcement partners announced 82 minors were rescued as part of Operation Cross County X.

More than 230 traffickers and their associates were also arrested.

“Operation Cross Country aims to shine a spotlight into the darkest corners of our society that seeks to prey on the most vulnerable of our population,” said FBI Director James Comey. “As part of this effort, we are not only looking to root out those who engage in the trafficking of minors, but through our Office for Victim Assistance, we offer a lifeline to minors to help them escape from a virtual prison no person ever deserves.”

Investigators said hundreds of Thai women were brought to the U.S. with fake visas and taken to major metro cities, such as Phoenix, Chicago, Atlanta and Minneapolis, to serve as sex slaves.

Most operated out of hotels, mainly near airports. Some victims were also used as sex slaves at day spas, houses and apartments.

“Child sex trafficking is a global problem and we must throw every resource we can at combating it,” said NCMEC Director John Clark. “All of us at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children are proud to work side by side with the FBI and their law enforcement partners as we work tirelessly every day to find and rescue child victims and while ensuring that those responsible for this horrible crime are held accountable.” 

In Detroit, federal and local law enforcement recovered a 17-year-old girl who had been recovered from a sex trafficking sweep last year. The teen had been placed by the state but later disappeared.

Investigators saw an ad with the girl’s photo on a website advertising sexual services. An undercover investigator made arrangements to meet with the girl and recovered her when she arrived at the hotel.

The teen told police there was another juvenile female in a vehicle waiting outside the hotel.

A surveillance team located the second child, also 17-years-old, as she was in the vehicle engaging in “illicit acts” with a male.

Both girls admitted to being trafficked by the same female suspect.

The two girls lived at home with one of their mothers and the female suspect.

The SEMTEC was established to investigate the exploitation of children and human trafficking in Southeast Michigan. 

The following are statistics from 2014: 

  • Arrest:  59 
  • HT/Juvenile Victims Recovered:  53
  • Federal Cases:  48
  • State Cases:  30

In 2015: 

  • Arrest:  261
  • HT/Juvenile Victims Recovered:  94
  • Federal Cases:  51
  • State Cases:  153

To read more about the Operation Cross County X, click here

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