Photo by ChameleonsEye via Shutterstock

An anti-trafficking operation known as Lost Angels recovered 33 children in Los Angeles on Jan. 24. 

Kristi Johnson, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, detailed the 10-day operation consisting of more than two dozen law enforcement agencies that worked to identify, locate and return the missing young children.

“The FBI considers human trafficking modern-day slavery,” Johnson said. “The minors engaged in commercial sex trafficking are considered victims.”

Of the 33 children recovered, eight were being sexually exploited at the time of recovery. Two were recovered multiple times during the operation while on the “track,” a term used to describe a known location for commercial sex trafficking. 

It is not uncommon for victims who are rescued to return to commercial sex trafficking either voluntarily or by force, fraud, or coercion according to Johnson. Multiple other victims located were sexually exploited in the past and were considered “vulnerable” missing children prior to their recovery. 

The operation resulted in the arrest on state charges of one suspected human trafficker and the opening of multiple criminal investigations, the FBI said. Some of the minor victims were arrested for probation violations, robbery or other misdemeanors. One child was a victim of a noncustodial parental kidnapping.

According to the FBI, human trafficking cases have “increased significantly” in recent years. During the fiscal year of 2020, the FBI opened 664 human trafficking investigations that spanned the nation. As a result, 473 traffickers were arrested.

As of November 2020, however, more than 1,800 trafficking investigations were still underway, including cases of child sex trafficking. The FBI urges anyone who thinks they’ve witnessed human trafficking to call their local FBI office or local police department.

Written ByAshton Byers

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