The Federal Bureau of Investigation, working with state and local partners for two weeks in August, located 37 actively missing children and located or identified 84 minor victims of child sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation offenses during a nationwide sex trafficking initiative dubbed, “Operation Cross Country.”

FBI agents from the Indianapolis Division confirmed taking part in the operation which resulted in nine juvenile victims being located or identified locally. Three sex offenders were also located or identified as part of local operations between FBI agents and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

“Human trafficking is among the most heinous crimes the FBI encounters,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “Unfortunately, such crimes—against both adults and children—are far more common than most people realize. As we did in this operation, the FBI and our partners will continue to find and arrest traffickers, identify and help victims, and raise awareness of the exploitation our most vulnerable populations.”

In addition to identifying and locating adolescent victims, the FBI and its partners also located 141 adult victims of human trafficking. Investigators also identified or arrested 85 suspects of child sexual exploitation or human trafficking offenses.

The United States Department of Justice stated that the average age of the victims located in similar operations is approximately 15.5 years old, while the youngest victim found as part of Operation Cross Country was 11 years old.

More than 200 state, local, and federal partners worked in conjunction with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children as part of Operation Cross Country which conducted 391 operations over a two-week period.

“The success of Operation Cross County reinforces what NCMEC sees every day. Children are being bought and sold for sex in communities across the country by traffickers, gangs and even family members,” said Michelle DeLaune, President and CEO National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

“We’re proud to support the FBI’s efforts to prioritize the safety of children. This national operation highlights the need for all child serving professionals to continue to focus on the wellbeing of children and youth to prevent them being targeted in the first place.”