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FBI finds 9 juveniles, 3 offenders in Indianapolis area, part of national sting

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — FBI agents from the Indianapolis Division worked with law enforcement partners from the United States Marshals Service and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department missing persons and vice units. The FBI identified 9 adolescent victims and three sex offenders during local operations on Aug. 12. Operation Cross Country ran from Aug. 4-7, as well as Aug.11-14.

According to the FBI, a major law enforcement operation to locate and assist victims of human trafficking and related crimes resulted in the location of more than 200 victims during the first two weeks of August.

Operation Cross Country is a coordinated operation among the FBI, other federal agencies, state and local police, and social services agencies across the country to find and assist those of human trafficking, particularly children, according to the FBI.

“The initiative really just takes a concentrated period of time where we’re just focused on the problem of child sex trafficking,” Section Chief Jose Perez said. “What we do is sit down with our local partners and our task forces and identify certain areas where we know sex trafficking is prevalent, and we’ll decided resources and efforts to identify and remove victims from those areas.

According to the FBI, their Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Forces across the county worked to locate victims both children and adults who were being trafficked against their will.

The goal is to gather intelligence, build criminal cases against traffickers, and offer victims from those areas, according to the FBI.

FBI Atlanta’s operation located 19 missing children and arrested four traffickers, according to the FBI.

In Chattanooga, Tenn. teams from 14 law enforcement agencies worked on a three-day operation, which included work locating sex offenders who had failed to register, tracking predators who approach children online, and looking for a runaway teenager at high risk for being trafficked, the FBI said.

According to the FBI, this year’s Operation Cross Country expanded to investigate sex offenders who may be eligible for federal charges and people trying to connect with children online to sexually abuse them.

“It’s a hybrid model that has expanded the traditional role of Operation Cross Country,” Special Agent Sam said. “With the advent of social media, access to mobile devices and technology, they’re out there in the neighborhoods not being monitored. And we don’t know if they’re going to have access to these communication devices to continue to exploit children online or have inappropriate physical contact with children.”