A multi-day operation by multiple agencies found 33 missing children in southern California, many of whom were sexually exploited.
The FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office announced the success of “Operation Lost Angels” on Friday, saying the operation began on January 11 and involved “more than two dozen partner agencies,” including law enforcement and non-governmental agencies.
“Of the 33 children recovered, eight were being sexually exploited at the time of recovery. Two were recovered multiple times during the operation while on the “track,” a common term used to describe a known location for commercial sex trafficking. It is not uncommon for victims who are rescued to return to commercial sex trafficking either voluntarily or by force, fraud, or coercion. This harmful cycle highlights the challenges victims face and those faced by law enforcement when attempting to keep victims from returning to an abusive situation. Victims may not self-identify as being trafficked or may not even realize they’re being trafficked,” the FBI stated. “Several other victims located had been sexually exploited in the past and were considered vulnerable missing children prior to their recovery. Additionally, the operation resulted in the arrest on state charges of one suspected human trafficker and the opening of multiple investigations. Some of the minor victims were arrested for probation violations, robbery, or other misdemeanors. One child was a victim of a noncustodial parental kidnapping.”
The FBI said that, as of November 2020, the bureau had more than 1,800 open trafficking investigations and leads 86 Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Forces across the country.
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