(NewsNation) — The FBI announced Tuesday it found more than 200 sex trafficking victims and more than 125 suspects during a two-week child exploitation operation in July.
During “Operation Cross Country,” the FBI located 59 victims of child sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation and 59 missing children. It was also in partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
The agency teamed with other federal agencies and state and local police to identify or arrest 126 suspects of child sexual exploitation and human trafficking and 68 suspected traffickers.
“Human trafficking is a grave violation of human rights that preys on the most vulnerable members of our society,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement. “The FBI’s actions against this threat never waver, as we continue to send our message that these atrocities will not be tolerated.”
“About 300,000 children are trafficked every year across the world,” said NewsNation national security analyst Tracy Walder. “The U.S. only accounts for about 5.1% of those children that are trafficked.”
FBI Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Forces across the country work throughout the year to locate victims and their traffickers.
Walder said operations like these, which have gone on for nearly two decades, are important because they’re not only reuniting children with their families but spreading public awareness.
“We’re also raising public awareness, and providing a victim center approach to these children to give them the tools that they need to heal, from what they have been through, which is horrific,” she said.
This comes after the release of the film “Sound of Freedom,” which is a fictionalized account of a controversial organization that engaged in stings to catch child sex traffickers.
Though it’s brought human tracking into the spotlight, Walder said that doesn’t necessarily mean people are talking about this issue more.
“When we’re taking down these large human trafficking rings or child trafficking rings, we start to see members of the community who are very much ingrained in the community or popular within the community are sometimes arrested as a result of these things,” she said. “That is really starting to garner public attention towards this issue.”