Omaha FBI participates in nationwide operation to find child sex trafficking victims

(Source: WBRC video)
Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 4:12 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A nationwide initiative from the FBI located dozens of victims of child sex trafficking.

According to the Omaha FBI, the FBI worked with state and local partners nationwide during ‘Operation Cross Country.’ The focus was to find and identify victims of sex trafficking, and then investigate and arrest the people involved.

The operation was conducted for two weeks in August and resulted in 84 minor victims of child sex crimes and 37 actively missing children being located and identified. A total of 141 adult victims of human trafficking were also found.

Ages of the victims averaged at 15.5 years old. The youngest victim found was 11 years old.

Investigators arrested 85 suspects during the operation for child sex exploitation and human trafficking crimes.

“The Justice Department is committed to doing everything in our power to combat the insidious crimes of human trafficking that devastate survivors and their families,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “I am grateful to the dedicated professionals of the FBI and our law enforcement partners across the country for their tireless work to rescue trafficking survivors, including exploited children, to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of trafficking crimes, and to provide the services and support that survivors need and deserve.”

In the Omaha area during operations between Aug. 11 and 14, law enforcement found 6 adolescent victims who were deemed high risk for exploitation. FBI Omaha agents worked with the Omaha Police Department, Douglas County Sheriff, Sarpy County Sheriff, Council Bluffs Police Department, Lincoln Police Department, and the Nebraska State Patrol during local operations.

“Sadly, the sexual exploitation of children is a continuing problem,” said FBI Omaha Special Agent in Charge Eugene Kowel. “The work of the FBI Omaha Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force sends the message that we remain vigilant on those who prey on our country’s most innocent population.”

A total of 391 operations were conducted on a nationwide level during Operation Cross Country. Law enforcement worked with more than 200 state, local and federal partners, including the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

“The success of Operation Cross County reinforces what NCMEC sees every day. Children are being bought and sold for sex in communities across the country by traffickers, gangs and even family members,” said Michelle DeLaune, President and CEO National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. “We’re proud to support the FBI’s efforts to prioritize the safety of children. This national operation highlights the need for all child-serving professionals to continue to focus on the wellbeing of children and youth to prevent them being targeted in the first place.”

FBI Omaha says victims are given a support network after being found. Specialists will help ensure a victim is given appropriate resources, including crisis intervention, emergency food and clothing, transportation for emergency services and shelter.

Operation Cross Country included task forces with federal, state, and tribal forces and efforts were conducted in every state and some U.S. territories.

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