This week the Department of Justice announced the nationwide recovery or identification of 103 child victims and the arrest of 67 sex traffickers through the FBI-led Operation Independence Day. This initiative was a month-long coordinated law enforcement effort, focused on the recovery of child sex trafficking victims and providing them with the assistance they needed.
Throughout the month of July, 161 operations were conducted nationwide through the 86 FBI-led Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Forces. The goal of this operation is to identify and recover child victims and prosecute those who exploit them. The FBI Kansas City’s Task Force participated in this initiative working in partnership with the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department; Overland Park, Kansas Police Department; Wichita, Kansas Police Department; Sedgwick County, Kansas Sheriff’s Office; Branson, Missouri Police Department, and the Springfield, Missouri Police Department. Throughout the initiative, two juveniles were recovered in the greater Kansas City area and 35 adults were identified and rescued as victims of commercial sex trafficking.
“Enforcement operations such as this shine a spotlight on these heinous crimes which prey on our most vulnerable, our children. The FBI, along with our law enforcement partners, are committed to working tirelessly to bring those responsible to justice and to provide victims with the services they need,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Daniel Netemeyer. This operation, a revamping of a previously successful program, Operation Cross Country, provided a concentrated effort to combat these criminal acts.
“Commercial sex trafficking of minors is a continual problem, and thousands of children are exploited throughout our country for commercial sex. The FBI and our law enforcement partners remain dedicated every day to investigating these atrocious crimes committed against children” said Supervisory Special Agent Craig Tremaroli, who oversees the FBI Kansas City Division’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force.
Operation Independence Day relied on the 86 FBI-led Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Forces, which leveraged the resources and intelligence of other federal, state, local, and tribal partners. Overall, more than 400 agencies participate in these task forces resulting in the initiation of 60 federal investigations.
Operation Independence Day prioritized locating and rescuing missing minors who are at great risk for sexual exploitation and arresting the traffickers exploiting them. To that end, through its partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), FBI special agents and intelligence analysts reviewed information provided through NCMEC’s CyberTipline, to identify missing minor children at risk for sexual exploitation, and then worked with state and local partners to execute law enforcement activity designed to recover those children and arrest traffickers.
The FBI’s Crimes Against Children and Human Trafficking Unit and DOJ coordinated the operation. For additional information on Operation Independence Day and the Innocence Lost initiative, visit the FBI website.