SAN ANTONIO – During a two-week operation in August, the FBI and state and local authorities across the county rescued more than 80 minors in a sex trafficking investigation.
Operation Cross Country is a nationwide initiative “focused on identifying and locating victims of sex trafficking and investigating and arresting individuals and criminal enterprises involved in both child sex trafficking and human trafficking,” the FBI said in a news release.
During the operation, the FBI worked with more than 200 state, local and federal partners and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to “arrest traffickers, identify and help victims, and raise awareness of the exploitation of our most vulnerable populations,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said.
The FBI said 391 individual operations were conducted over the 14 days.
Across the country, 84 victims of child sex trafficking and child exploitation offenses were discovered, 37 of whom were actively missing, FBI officials said.
The average age of victims located during this year’s Operation Cross Country was 15.5, while the youngest victim discovered was 11 years old.
According to the FBI, three children were found in the San Antonio and Austin areas.
“Sex Trafficking represents some of the worst in human behavior, especially when it deals with the most vulnerable of our society, our children,” said FBI San Antonio Special Agent in Charge Oliver E. Rich Jr. in a written statement. “The FBI works tirelessly every day with our law enforcement partners to protect children from illegal sex trafficking operations and to help victims receive the support and services available to them. We would like to thank the Texas Department of Public Safety, San Antonio Police Department, Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, and the Austin Police Department for their assistance in this operation.”
In addition to identifying and locating the child victims, the FBI and its partners located 141 adult victims of human trafficking.
Eighty-five suspects were arrested for child sexual exploitation and human trafficking offenses during the operation.