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33 Children, Including 8 Trafficked For Sex, Recovered In FBI's 'Operation Los Angels'

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Dozens of missing children, eight of whom were being sexually exploited, have been recovered as part of "Operation Los Angels," according to the FBI.

The operation with the LAPD, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, and more than two dozen local law enforcement agencies started on Jan. 11 and recently recovered 33 children, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said Friday. One suspected human trafficker, who was not identified, has been arrested, and the operation has led to several other investigations.

child sex trafficking
(credit: FBI)

One of the children was the victim of a noncustodial parental kidnapping, Eimiller said. Others were arrested for probation violations, robbery, or other misdemeanors. Eight of the children being sexually exploited at the time of recovery, and two of them were recovered twice while on the "track," a term Eimiller said is commonly 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," the FBI's statement said. "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 says its caseload for both sex and labor trafficking related crimes have increased in recent years, and the agency was conducting more than 1,800 pending investigations – including those involving minors – as of November 2020.

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