The nationwide results of Operation Cross Country were announced earlier this week, revealing that a staggering 84 minor victims were rescued in child sex trafficking and exploitation-related cases. The average age of the victims is just under 16 years of age, with the youngest victim being 11 years old.
According to a press release from the San Antonio office of the FBI, federal agents joined with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) as well as the San Antonio Police Department, Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, and Austin Police Department during the Texas phase of the operation, lasting three days in each area and rescuing three adolescent victims.
“Sex Trafficking represents some of the worst in human behavior, especially when it deals with the most vulnerable of our society, our children,” FBI San Antonio Special Agent in Charge Oliver E. Rich Jr. wrote regarding the local results of the operation.
“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.”
Eighty-five suspects were identified or charged with child sexual exploitation and human trafficking-related charges stemming from Operation Cross Country.
Michelle DeLaune, an official with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, stated that the results of Operation Cross Country are “reinforcing” what they are seeing every day.
“Children are being bought and sold for sex in communities across the country by traffickers, gangs, and even family members,” DeLaune said.
In June, another joint law enforcement operation focusing on several West Texas communities saw the rescue and recovery of 70 child victims of human and sex trafficking, with victims ranging from ages 10 to 17.
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Matt Stringer is a reporter for The Texan who writes about all things government, politics, and public policy in West Texas. He graduated summa cum laude from Odessa College with an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies and is presently finishing a Bachelor’s Degree in Management and Leadership. In his free time, you will find him in the great outdoors, usually in the Davis Mountains and Big Bend region of Southwest Texas.