UNITED STATES—On Friday, January 22, the U.S. Marshall’s Office announced that 33 children from southern California were rescued from sex trafficking and one person has been arrested. According to a press release by FBI Los Angeles Public Affairs Specialist Laura Eimiller, the Operation Lost Angels initiative began on January 11.
Eight of the victims were “of the 33 children recovered, eight were being sexually exploited at the time of recovery,” FBI officials stated. 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,” Eimiller stated.
“Collaboration with our law enforcement partners is key to end the vicious cycle of modern-day slavery. I’m committed to doing everything we can to end human trafficking,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
Los Angeles Chief of Police Michael Moore, FBI Los Angeles Field Office, Assistant Director in Charge Kristi K. Johnson, and the following offices collaborated in their efforts:
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office, Los Angeles Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, United States Attorney’s Office, United States Marshall’s Service Internal Revenue Service, Drug Enforcement Agency, Health and Human Services, Inglewood Police Department, El Segundo Police Department, Long Beach Police Department, San Diego Police Department, Langston University Police (Oklahoma), San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office, Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, San Luis Obispo District Attorney Bureau of Investigation, Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office, California Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, Los Angeles County Probation Office, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Wayfinder Family Services, and the Arizona Department of Child Safety.
This Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) reported on January 11, which is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, that their month-long undercover sting, “Operation Inception” which resulted in 71 arrests.
On December 18, 2020, the U.S. Marshals Service in coordination with the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations New York, and New York Police Department recovered a highly endangered missing juvenile from Johnston County, North Carolina since October 12.
On December 2, 2020, U.S. Marshal Tyreece Miller announced the recovery of an endangered female juvenile who was located in Martin, Tennessee by members of the Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force.