The FBI announced on Monday that it has located up to 121 missing children and child trafficking victims in a nationwide sting operation.
In a news release, the agency said that its “Operation Cross Country” initiative helped locate more than 200 victims of human trafficking and related crimes during the first two weeks of this month.
Operation Cross Country is a coordinated effort among the FBI and other federal, state and local agencies to help find or assist victims of human trafficking.
One hundred and forty-one adult victims were also found through the agency’s initiative, bringing the active total of victims located by authorities this year as part of Cross Country to 391.
The FBI also said that its local stings in and around Chattanooga, Tenn., and Atlanta resulted in the finding of 19 missing children and the arrest of seven traffickers.
“The initiative really just takes a concentrated period of time where we’re just focused on the problem of child sex trafficking,” FBI section chief Jose Perez, who oversees the agency’s violent crime investigations, said in a statement. “What we do is we sit down with our local partners and our task forces and identify certain areas where we know sex trafficking is prevalent, and we’ll dedicate resources and efforts to identify and remove victims from those areas.”
Nearly 200 federal, state and local agencies have partnered with the agency on its Operation Cross Country initiative, adding that the goal of the operation is to gather intelligence, build criminal cases against traffickers and offer assistance to victims.
The initiative also plans to expand to investigate sex offenders who may be eligible for federal charges and others who try to connect with children online to sexually abuse them.