During a four-day operation starting last week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) rescued 84 children exploited by sex traffickers.
The rescues, along with arrests of 120 sex traffickers, came as part of an annual law enforcement action dubbed Operation Cross Country. More than 500 law enforcement agencies participated in the operation, which involved sting operations at a variety of venues including hotels and truck stops.
Law enforcement specifically targeted social media sites used by prostitutes, pimps, and their customers, the FBI said in a release on Wednesday.
In a statement, FBI Director Christopher Wray described protecting the nation’s children as the agency’s greatest mission.
“Unfortunately, the number of traffickers arrested — and the number of children recovered — reinforces why we need to continue to do this important work,” he added.
As an example, the FBI described one situation in which an undercover officer received an offer to buy sex with a 3-month-old.
The operation falls under the FBI’s Innocence Lost National Initiative, which has expanded across the United States and into several countries. During the operation, the FBI coordinated with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children along with federal, local, and state law enforcement partners.