120 arrested, 84 minors saved in nationwide crackdown on underage human trafficking

12 child victims, 8 traffickers discovered in Michigan

DETROIT – Officials arrested 120 suspected traffickers and rescued 84 minors during a nationwide crackdown on underage human trafficking, the FBI and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children announced Wednesday.

Operation Cross Country XI ran from Oct. 12-15 and led to the recovery of 84 minors.

"We at the FBI have no greater mission than to protect our nation’s children from harm," said FBI Director Christopher Wray. "Unfortunately, the number of traffickers arrested -- and the number of children recovered -- reinforces why we need to continue to do this important work. This operation isn't just about taking traffickers off the street. It's about making sure we offer help and a way out to these young victims who find themselves caught in a vicious cycle of abuse."

Crackdown operation in Michigan

Over the weekend, law enforcement agencies throughout Michigan joined Operation Cross Country XI, according to David P. Gelios, the special agent in charge of the FBI division in Detroit.

Investigators found 12 child victims of juvenile sex trafficking and arrested eight traffickers or pimps and their associates, officials said.

READMassive FBI operation rescues 12 minors from sex trafficking in Michigan

An additional 46 adults involved in prostitution were temporarily taken into custody.

"The success of OCCXI in Michigan is due to the local, state and federal partners who share the same passionate commitment to disrupt and prevent the sexual exploitation of children and adults," Gelios said. "While the recovery of exploited juvenile victims remains our priority, the FBI will continue to work tirelessly to rescue anyone being commercially trafficked and exploited."

More about Operation Cross Country XI

As part of Operation Cross Country XI, FBI agents staged operations in hotels, casinos, truck stops, street corners and internet websites.

The youngest victim recovered during the operation was 3 months old, officials said.

The average age of the victims recovered was 15 years old.

Minors recovered during the operation were offered help from state protective services and the FBI's Victim Services Division. Services include medical and mental health counseling.

"Child sex trafficking is happening in every community across America, and at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, we're working to combat this problem every day," said NCMEC President and CEO John Clark. "We're proud to work with the FBI on Operation Cross Country to help find and recover child victims. We hope OCC generates more awareness about this crisis impacting our nation's children."

Operation Cross Country XI is part of the FBI's Innocence Lost National Initiative, which started in 2003 and has found more than 6,500 child identifications and locations, officials said.

Michigan agencies involved in operation

"The Michigan State Police will continue to support the efforts to combat human trafficking and rescue victims from the manipulation and violence of suspects who take advantage of vulnerable children and adults in our community," MSP Capt. Monica Yesh said. "Our department is committed to working with the SEMTEC Task Force and our law enforcement partners enforcing human trafficking laws and arresting the suspects who commit these horrific acts."

Here are the agencies that worked with SEMTEC (the FBI’s Southeast Michigan Trafficking and Exploitation Crimes) in the Metro Detroit area:

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Michigan State Police
  • Detroit Police Department
  • Warren Police Department
  • Canton Police Department
  • Romulus Police Department
  • Huron Township Police Department
  • Roseville Police Department
  • Southfield Police Department
  • Livonia Police Department
  • Dearborn Police Department
  • Madison Heights Police Department
  • Internal Revenue Service
  • Homeland Security Investigations

Here are the agencies that worked with NEMTEC (the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children) in the Flint and Saginaw areas:

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation, Flint and Bay City Resident Agencies
  • Michigan State Police
  • Flint Police Department
  • Flint Township Police Department
  • Grand Blanc Township Police Department
  • Saginaw Police Department
  • Saginaw County Sheriff’s Office
  • Saginaw Township Police Department
  • Internal Revenue Service
  • Mott Community College PD
  • Carrollton Township Police Department


About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.