WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - Nearly 100 victims of child sex trafficking are safe — and dozens of accused traffickers are behind bars — thanks to an FBI-led operation that spanned the entire country, according to investigators.
Dubbed “Operation Independence Day,” the massive investigation took place throughout the month of July and was comprised of more than 160 different busts, including in the D.C. area.
Working alongside local law enforcement agencies, officials said undercover officers scanned social media and escort sites looking for what appeared to be children advertising sex. The officers would then set up a fake date, meet up with the victims, try to help them, and eventually make an effort to arrest their traffickers.
In the D.C area, that amounted to five arrests of suspected traffickers. Investigators say they were also able to get two children who were being trafficked off the street.
“These are children that are being prostituted on the streets of America, and we need to rescue these individuals and provide them the medical and counseling that they need to rejoin society,” said Robert Bornstein, the assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
Nationwide, agents say they were able to help 82 child victims and identify another 21, while 67 suspected traffickers were arrested.