Nearly two dozen child, adult sex trafficking victims rescued in Denver metro area in national FBI operation

Nearly two dozen adult and child sex trafficking victims were rescued in the Denver metro area by the FBI Denver’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force and more than 40 agencies across the Front Range in August as part of a national operation to rescue people exploited by human trafficking.

Over a three-day period from Aug. 4-6, 11 child victims and 11 adult victims of sexual exploitation were recovered in the Denver area in Operation Cross Country, a national FBI initiative focused on identifying and locating victims, primarily children, of sex trafficking, the FBI Denver Field Office announce on Tuesday.

In addition to the victims, 27 missing or endangered children were located, and six traffickers were identified. Two were arrested on unrelated felony warrants.

The Denver Field Office located more victims than any other field office in the country and were tied for first in the number of subjects identified or arrested.

“No person, let alone a child, should ever be exploited as an item for sale,” said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Michael Schneider. “Child sex traffickers often prey upon our community’s most vulnerable minors — runaways, foster kids, and victims of abuse. The traffickers promise their young victims they will receive care and support when that couldn’t be further from the truth. FBI Denver’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force will continue to do everything it can to ensure children recovered from this kind of exploitation receive the services they need to move forward with their lives.”

Schneider said in a press conference that Denver’s portion of the operation used a three-pronged approach in their operation: intelligence analysis and lead generation; working with task force partners to locate the victims; and offering service of support through child victim advocates.

In one of the child victim cases, a minor had ingested fentanyl, and when officials rescued her, they were able to administer Narcan and save her life, Schneider said.

Citing this instance, Arapahoe County Sheriff Tyler Brown said one of the most important aspects of this kind of work is being able to work with other partner agencies to provide victims the services they need to overcome issues like drug abuse.

“So many of these victims are also involved in drug abuse, and we need to make sure we’re giving them the resources necessary,” Brown said. “If it weren’t for all the member agencies involved, we wouldn’t be able to reach as many lives as we have today.”

In Denver, the Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force includes members from the Denver Police Department, Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, Colorado State Patrol, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. They were joined by other state and local agencies, the U.S. Marshals Service, and victim advocacy groups during Operation Cross Country.

Since the inception of the Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force in 2012, approximately 700 minors have been recovered. The task force receives between 40 and 50 tips every month from sources including state and national hotlines and our community partnerships.

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