Los Angeles field office and FBI rescue over 30 youth

Amelia Symons, Staff Writer

In recent weeks, the Los Angeles field office has rescued at least 33 missing children from sex-trafficking locations in and around Virginia. January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month so authorities are working extra hard to reunite missing children with their families and previous lives as best they can. The investigation, called “Operation Lost Angels,” used the work of more than 25 law enforcement agencies including the Wichita Police Department, Langston University Police, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and Arizona Department of Child Safety. It began on January 11 and lasted 10 days. After finding the missing children, multiple agencies worked together to meet the needs of the found kids in areas such as medical assistance, housing, employment, education, child care, and legal services. “Operation Lost Angels” came just months after “Operation Not Forgotten” in Georgia found 27 missing children with the help of the U.S. Marshals Service Missing Child Unit, local law enforcement, and federal agents. That operation led to far more arrests, but children were brought home to their families in both. 

The FBI says the amount of cases dealing with sex and labor trafficking have been increasing of the past few years. In November 2020, there were nearly 2,000 trafficking investigations taking place. In the year 2020, the FBI arrested almost 500 traffickers and led over 600 investigations. Despite increased efforts, attention, and resources in the United States, the number of people becoming victims of trafficking continues to increase. There is no one reason for this. Some people believe the pandemic has played a role in these statistics. A nonprofit organization working to prevent and reduce human trafficking published that the number of human trafficking victims from April 2019 to April 2020 increased by 40 percent. Donald Washington, the director of the Marshals Service, released a statement to the families of missing children saying, “The message to missing children and their families is that we will never stop looking for you.” They encourage anyone with any information to come forward because no one knows what discoveries their information may lead to.