FBI works with local agencies in nationwide human trafficking sting
PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Seven potential human trafficking victims, including an adolescent, have been located and are now getting help after a nationwide FBI investigation.
According to a news release, The FBI Jacksonville Division, along with state and local agencies, have been working on “Operation Cross Country XII” to identify and locate victims of sex trafficking as well as investigating and arresting individuals and criminal enterprises involved in both child sex and human trafficking.
Over the course of two weeks in August, FBI Jacksonville, with support from ten law enforcement agencies across North Florida, arrested three subjects for investigation of human trafficking related offenses, identified six adult potential human trafficking victims, and contacted another 46 individuals for further investigation to determine if they are being trafficked.
In partnership with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, FBI Jacksonville recovered one at-risk minor who was reported missing from another state in early 2022.
FBI Victim Specialists are working with local community organizations to assist any individual who was contacted throughout the operation, to include providing them with food and clothing, transportation, and locating shelter or housing.
“I would say definitely in the last four years we have definitely not been seeing any decline in the threat, in the problem,” C.J. Goodman, Special Agent with the FBI Jacksonville Division said. “I kind of equate it as a lot of people are used to the movie’s like Taken or the Hollywood version of human trafficking, and that certainly exists but we see on the day to day just within our community there’s individuals being exploited just because they are down and out. They lack resources, they lack a network of individuals to help them when they have tough times.”
Local agencies also worked alongside the FBI in the operation including the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, Panama City Beach Police Department, Panama City Police Department and the Walton County Sheriff’s Office.
Nationwide, more than 200 law enforcement and victim assistance organizations supported Operation Cross County XII.
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