A 12-state human trafficking operation led by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office and the Missouri State Highway Patrol has led to 102 arrests and the rescue of 47 victims and sex workers including 2 minor victims. Operation United Front entailed simultaneous state-level human trafficking operations throughout the night on Thursday and into the early morning and is believed to be the first Attorney General-led multi-state operation of its kind. State and federal law enforcement agencies from 12 states participated in Operation United Front.
Using both buyer-centric and victim-centric “sting” human trafficking operations, Missouri and participating states were able to rescue 47 victims and sex workers and provide needed medical services to 41 and arrested 102 across the country in connection with human trafficking. Other states conducted “minor recovery” operations, which rescued 2 minor victims, who are more vulnerable and easily manipulated in regards to human trafficking. Each state conducted its own operation simultaneously while sharing information and data with the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Missouri Attorney General’s Office. Prior to the operation, Missouri offered training and information about how to best conduct these operations to participating states.
These operations typically use undercover officers who arrange “dates” or meetups with potential human trafficking victims and rescue that victim or sex worker and provide needed services, or pose as a victim themselves and arrest buyers or traffickers.
“The Missouri Attorney General’s Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force has been recognized as a national leader for our efforts to investigate and eradicate human trafficking in Missouri. Through that task force, we were able to engage law enforcement agencies and attorneys general from across the country to organize and lead Operation United Front, which was a massive success, rescuing 47 victims including 2 minors, and making 102 arrests across 12 states,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “Operation United Front was an unprecedented human trafficking operation that brought together law enforcement agencies from different jurisdictions – something that rarely happens. When we all come together, we can affect change and more effectively fight human trafficking, a crime that is often multi-jurisdictional in nature. My Office will not stop in our quest to investigate and eradicate human trafficking in Missouri.”
Across the country, the following agencies participated or conducted separate state-level operations: Missouri Attorney General’s Office, Missouri State Highway Patrol, Iowa Department of Public Safety, Kentucky Attorney General’s Office, Kentucky State Police, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Nebraska State Patrol, Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force, North Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, Oklahoma City Police Department, Tulsa Police Department, South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Texas Attorney General’s Office, Texas Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance Task Force, Round Rock Police Department, Austin Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, numerous Kansas City-area law enforcement, and non-profit DeliverFund.
Missouri’s operation, which was a victim-centric operation, took place at a local commercial business in Kansas City and resulted in 2 arrests and the rescue of 4 victims. 11 victims were provided needed services.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Missouri Attorney General’s Office served as the main communications hub to coordinate other states’ operations.
Missouri: 2 arrests made, 4 victims rescued
Illinois: 3 arrests made, 1 victim rescued
Iowa: 11 arrests made, a large amount of currency seized
Kentucky: 46 arrests made, 21 victims rescued, 2 minor victims rescued
Minnesota: 3 arrests made, 8 victims rescued
Nebraska: 7 arrests made
North Dakota: 3 arrests made, 6 victims rescued
Oklahoma: 7 arrests made, 1 victim rescued
Tennessee: 4 arrests made
Texas: 2 arrests made, 4 victims rescued
Wisconsin: 5 arrests made
Services offered to 41.
South Dakota’s operation at Sturgis led to 9 arrests.
Total: 102 total arrests, 47 total victims rescued including 2 minor victims rescued.
South Dakota previously conducted a week-long operation during the Sturgis Biker Rally, and arrested 9 individuals – 8 of those arrested were for Enticement of a Minor using the internet. 1 arrest was for Attempted Commercial Sex Trafficking of a minor.