33 Exploited Children Rescued in Last Days of Trump Presidency

Combating human trafficking was a major theme of the Trump Presidency. And in the last month of his administration the FBI partnered with more than two dozen agencies to recover 33 missing children from Los Angeles, California in an initiative called “Operation Lost Angels.” If the Biden administration doesn’t end the program, information obtained during the recovery may be used in stopping other possible child trafficking schemes and related crimes.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and on the 11th the FBI, began working with the L.A. Police Department, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and numerous other law enforcement and non-governmental partners to identify, locate and recover missing children, particularly ones suspected of being sexually exploited or trafficked.

Eight were being sexually exploited at the time of their recovery, and two were recovered multiple times while on the “track,” a term for a known location where commercial sex trafficking occurs. Several of the other victims had been sexually exploited in the past and were “considered vulnerable missing children,” according to authorities.

One person suspected of human trafficking was arrested on state charges, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said Friday in a press release.
“The FBI considers human trafficking modern-day slavery and the minors engaged in commercial sex trafficking are considered victims,” said Kristi K. Johnson, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “While this operation surged resources over a limited period of time with great success, the FBI and our partners investigate child sex trafficking every day of the year and around the clock.”

“This harmful cycle highlights the challenges victims face and those faced by law enforcement when attempting to keep victims from returning to an abusive situation,” the FBI said. “Victims may not self-identify as being trafficked or may not even realize they’re being trafficked.”

Federal investigators worked with the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and two dozen other law enforcement agencies.

Agencies in other states also assisted including the Wichita Police Department in Kansas, the Langston University Police in Oklahoma and the Arizona Department of Child Safety.

“Human trafficking is a pervasive and insidious crime that threatens the safety of our young people, who are the future of our communities,” said Michel Moore, chief of the Los Angeles Police Department. “We can only begin to take back the future of our youth with the strong partnerships forged between outstanding service providers and law enforcement.”