By Allen Zhong
A human trafficking operation joined by 12 states has rescued 47 victims and arrested 102 people, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced on Aug. 27.
“Using both buyer-centric and victim-centric ‘sting’ human trafficking operations, Missouri and participating states were able to rescue 47 victims and sex workers and provide needed medical services to 41, and arrested 102 across the country in connection with human trafficking,” the Missouri Attorney General’s Office said in a statement.
According to the information provided by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office, the operation rescued victims and made arrests in 12 states.
Missouri: four victims rescued, two arrests made.
Illinois: one victim rescued, three arrests made.
Iowa: 11 arrests made, a large amount of currency has been seized.
Kentucky: 21 adult victims rescued, two minor victims rescued, 46 arrests made.
Minnesota: eight victims rescued, three arrests made.
Nebraska: seven arrests made.
North Dakota: six victims rescued, three arrests made.
Oklahoma: one victim rescued, seven arrests made.
Tennessee: four arrests made.
Texas: four victims rescued, two arrests made.
Wisconsin: five arrests made.
South Dakota: nine arrests made.
The operation, Operation United Front, was led by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office and the Missouri State Highway Patrol and joined by various law enforcement departments from Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas. Homeland Security Investigations and the FBI also joined the efforts.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Missouri Attorney General’s Office served as the main communications hub to coordinate other states’ operations, while each state conducted its own operation simultaneously.
Missouri also offered training and information about how to best conduct the operations to participating states.
“Operation United Front was an unprecedented human trafficking operation that brought together law enforcement agencies from different jurisdictions—something that rarely happens. When we all come together, we can affect change and more effectively fight human trafficking, a crime that is often multi-jurisdictional in nature,” Schmitt said.
According to data collected by the FBI, there were 1,883 human trafficking offenses reported in 2019, with 875 of the offenses cleared or closed, including 18 offenses that involved minor victims under the age of 18.
The terms “cleared” or “closed” usually mean that law enforcement departments have made arrests, the suspects have been charged, cases have been turned over to the court for prosecution, or the offender has been identified.