An anti-trafficking operation called 'Lost Angels' found 33 missing children in Los Angeles

An anti-trafficking operation called 'Lost Angels' found 33 missing children in Los Angeles
The FBI seal is seen outside the headquarters building in Washington, DC on July 5, 2016. - The FBI said Tuesday it will not recommend charges over Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of state, but said she had been "extremely careless" in her handling of top secret data. The decision not to recommend prosecution will come as a huge relief for the presumptive Democratic nominee whose White House campaign has been dogged by the months-long probe.Photo by YURI GRIPAS/AFP via Getty Images
  • 33 children were recovered from an anti-trafficking operation in Los Angeles, according to an FBI statement.
  • With help from the Los Angeles Police Department and over two dozen agencies, the bureau was able to identify and locate the missing children, particularly those who have been or were suspected of being sexually exploited or trafficked.
  • In 2020, the FBI initiated 664 human trafficking investigations nationwide, resulting in the arrests of 473 traffickers, investigators said.

The FBI recovered 33 missing children this month during an anti-trafficking operation called "Lost Angels" in Los Angeles, California.

In a statement posted Friday, the bureau along with help from the Los Angeles Police Department and more than two dozen agencies was able to identify and locate the missing children, particularly those who have been or were suspected of being sexually exploited or trafficked.

Of the 33 children recovered, eight were being sexually exploited at the time of recovery, the statement said. Two minors were recovered on multiple occasions during the operation, highlighting that "it is not uncommon for victims who are rescued to return to commercial sex trafficking either voluntarily or by force, fraud, or coercion."
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Human trafficking is when people are recruited or harbored, by threat or force, to be exploited, according to the United Nations. Mostly, it's commercial sex or labor exploitation, and a victim does not need to be transported anywhere in order to fall under the definition, as Business Insider previously reported.

"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 Chief Michel Moore said in the 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."

Many other victims had been sexually exploited in the past and were considered vulnerable missing children prior to their recovery, the FBI statement said. The operation resulted in the arrest on state charges of one suspected human trafficker and the opening of multiple investigations, according to the FBI.
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The operation recovered the children in January, the Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and came amid an increased caseload for both sex and labor trafficking-related crimes over the past several years, according to the FBI.

In 2020, the FBI initiated 664 human trafficking investigations nationwide, resulting in the arrests of 473 traffickers. As of November 2020, there were more than 1,800 pending trafficking investigations, including those involving minors exploited through commercial sex trafficking, according to the statement. "The FBI considers human trafficking modern-day slavery and the minors engaged in commercial sex trafficking are considered victims," said Assistant Director Johnson in the statement. "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."
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