Atlanta FBI agents to outline role in national sex trafficking operation bust

The FBI in Atlanta is expected on Tuesday to outline the role Georgia agents and local law enforcement played in "Operation Cross Country," which rescued more than 80 children from national sex trafficking ring.

The FBI is expected to release local numbers impacting Georgia.

On Monday, the agency said 84 children, of which 37 were part of active missing persons cases, were rescued. The average age of the children were just over 15 years old with the youngest being 11 years old.

Investigators say they also located 141 adult victims of human trafficking.

The Justice Department said 85 suspects have been identified, with many being arrested on child sexual exploitation and human trafficking offenses.

Police officers from Dunwoody, Cobb County, Atlanta, Atlanta Public Schools, Gwinnett County Schools, and Cobb County Schools as well as deputies from Fulton and Carroll counties participated in nationwide operations in Georgia.

Operation Cross Country XII

The FBI said Operation Cross Country XII involved FBI special agents, intelligence analysts, victim specialists, and child adolescent forensic Interviewers. They worked in conjunction with 200 state, local, and federal partners and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to conduct 391 operations over a two-week period.

"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," offered Michelle DeLaune, president and CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

The 2021 Federal Human Trafficking Report released in June showed that more than half of all trafficking victims in the U.S. were minors in federal prosecutions last year.

The FBI logo outside the Atlanta field office on February 1, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)


Of the nearly 450 human trafficking victims involved in new U.S. criminal cases in 2021, 57% were minors, according to the report from the Human Trafficking Institute (HTI).

Texas, Florida and Georgia charged the most criminal human trafficking suspects last year. Districts that charged the most defendants accused of trafficking minors for sex in 2021 were, in order: southern Texas, South Carolina, southern Florida, eastern New York, southern Illinois, middle Florida, eastern Arkansas, eastern Texas, Nebraska, eastern Michigan and northern Illinois.

Since 2000, 55% of sex trafficking victims have been recruited online, typically through social media platforms, online chat rooms, messaging apps, dating apps or advertisements, the human trafficking research organization said in its report.

FOX News contributed to this report.