Almost three dozen missing children, including several who had been sexually exploited, were rescued after a massive operation involving multiple law enforcement agencies in Southern California. Of the children recovered, eight were being sexually exploited at the time of recovery. One child was discovered to be the victim of a noncustodial parental kidnapping. Some of the minor victims were arrested for probation violations, robbery or other misdemeanors. “Operation Lost Angels” began on January 11. Federal investigators worked with the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and two dozen other law enforcement agencies. “The FBI considers human trafficking modern-day slavery, and the minors engaged in commercial sex trafficking are considered victims,”
Assistant FBI Director Kristi K. Johnson said. The operation resulted in the arrest on state charges of one suspected human trafficker and the opening of multiple investigations. The FBI is working with its partners to provide resources to the rescued children, including medical care and legal services. In 2020, the FBI initiated 664 human trafficking investigations nationwide, making 473 arrests. As of November, there were more than 1,800 pending trafficking investigations including those involving minors exploited through commercial sex trafficking, according to the agency.