NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – A four-day FBI operation to rescue underage victims of sex trafficking resulted in 45 arrests in Louisiana, including six pimps, and the recovery of three juvenile victims.
The arrests occurred as part of Operation Cross Country X, an annual effort to crack down on sex trafficking and prostitution.
Nationwide, agents rescued 82 juveniles and arrested 239 pimps and other people, according to a report from the FBI New Orleans Division.
Working in cooperation with international authorities in Canada, Cambodia, the Philippines, and Thailand, the FBI coordinated the expansive effort with local, state, and federal law enforcement partners as well as the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
“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,” FBI Director James Comey said at a press conference announcing the results. “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.”
This year’s Operation Cross Country, the largest in the effort’s 10-year history, included members of more than 400 law enforcement agencies and 55 FBI field offices.
Participating agents set up sting operations in hotels, casinos and truck stops, with the youngest rescued victim just 13 years old, according to the report.
“This is a depressing day in law enforcement, because this is the world we live in and the work we have to do,” Comey said at the press conference before going on to praise the “true heroes” who dedicated themselves to rescuing the exploited children.