• February 5, 2023

FBI finds 33 missing children in California

A multiagency investigation recently found 33 children missing in Southern California, including eight who had been sexually exploited Press release Friday.

Operation Lost Angels began on Jan. 11 as part of the human trafficking awareness month and involved more than two dozen agencies to identify and find missing children, the FBI said.

Officials said two of the children had been found in known commercial sex trafficking locations on multiple occasions, saying that children at risk would frequently return to such situations for various reasons as part of a “harmful cycle” of abuse.

Several other children had been sexually exploited in the past and were considered “missing children at risk” before officials tracked them down, the FBI said.

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Officials arrested one person for state trafficking in human beings. The agencies also opened several investigations, the FBI said. Some of the “minor victims” have been arrested for parole violations, robbery or other misdemeanors, and one was a victim of unconsidered parental abduction, the FBI said.

A spokesman for the Los Angeles FBI office did not immediately provide any further details about the children, including: B. their age. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the cases were in any way related.

The FBI said the number of crimes related to sex and human trafficking had “increased significantly” in recent years. The FBI began collecting data on human trafficking in 2013. Since then, the number of states involved in data collection has increased along with the number of incidents reported.

As of November, there were more than 1,800 investigations pending against people of all ages, according to the FBI.

“The FBI regards human trafficking as modern slavery and the underage sex traffickers as victims,” ​​said Kristi Johnson, assistant director of the FBI’s Los Angeles branch, in the press release.

Last November, 27 children in Virginia were recovered as part of a separate operation. Many of the children were runaways, sometimes along with other family members, and teenagers in the care system, federal officials said.

In none of the Virginia cases was a child kidnapped by someone they did not know, and many were “essentially children in a bad situation,” said Frank Schermer, U.S. assistant marshal for the western district of Virginia. “This is not part of a child smuggling ring or anything like that,” he said.

Featuring: Ryan Miller, USA TODAY

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