Sex trafficking is a huge worldwide problem, and it happens frequently in the United States.
The United Nations estimates that around 2.4 million people are being trafficked each year, with 20.9 million victims around the world. About 80 pecent of those people are used as sexual slaves, and up to half are children.
This is a $32 billion-a-year industry, human trafficking is on the rise, and it happens in all 50 states. Up to 300,000 Americans under 18 are lured into the commercial sex trade every year. Between 14,500 and 17,500 of those victims are trafficked into the United States each year.
At the end of October of this year, the FBI conducted Operation Cross Country X to rescue trafficked children and arrest those responsible.
FBI Director Comey expressed bittersweet feelings about the arrest of 239 child-sex traffickers. “This is a depressing day in law enforcement because this is the world we live in and the work we have to do.” He also said it was a proud day, “because there are people who spend every day worrying about how to rescue these children. They are true heroes.”
The international operation took three days, and more than 82 children were rescued in the States alone. Cross Country X is part of the ongoing Lost Innocence National Initiative, which has saved 6,000 juveniles so far.
One particularly heartbreaking story from the FBI report spoke of two teenage girls in Milwaukee who said their mother was their pimp. Their mother also rented out their brother’s room to a registered sex offender.
The FBI released raw footage of the operation in action to educate the public about sex trafficking in the United States.
You can also watch the full Operation Cross Country X press conference to learn more.