FBI: 33 missing children found in anti-human trafficking operation in Southern California

LOS ANGELES — Thirty-three missing children, including eight who were sexually abused, were rescued as a result of a multi-agency investigation in Southern California, the FBI announced Friday.

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Two of the children were rescued multiple times during the “Lost Angels” operation, FBI Los Angeles stated in a news release. Those children were apparently on “the track,” a term used to describe a known location for sex trafficking.

The recovery of the children came during Human Trafficking Awareness Month, KTLA reported.

The investigation utilized the resources of 24 agencies, including the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the California Department of Child and Family Services, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, FBI Los Angeles said in its release.

The investigation began Jan. 11.

“Several other victims located had been sexually exploited in the past and were considered vulnerable missing children prior to their recovery,” the FBI said in its news release.

Authorities did not provide details about where the victims were found, and did not provide any details about the people who were arrested, the FBI said.

One person accused of human trafficking was arrested on state charges, KTLA reported. In addition, some of the minors under investigation were arrested on suspicion of probation violations, robbery and other misdemeanors. One child was the victim of a noncustodial parental kidnapping, the FBI said.

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

“Collaboration with our law enforcement partners is key to ending the vicious cycle of modern-day slavery,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a statement. “I’m committed to doing everything we can to stop human trafficking.”