WASHINGTON, D.C. — The FBI conducted a national effort the past week called Operation Cross Country IX, which aims to target enterprises responsible for the commercial sex trafficking of children.

“Human trafficking is a monstrous and devastating crime that steals lives and degrades our nation,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch as part of a statement. “As a result of the FBI’s outstanding coordination and exemplary efforts alongside state and local partners during Operation Cross Country, more children will sleep safely tonight, and more wrongdoers will face the judgment of our criminal justice system.

As a result of this year’s nationwide operation, 149 victims were recovered; the youngest victim was 12 years old. Operations were conducted at hotels, casinos, truck stops and areas known to be visited by sex-traffickers and their customers.

Locally, the operation led to 25 arrests, including two pimps. Three potential adult human trafficking victims were rescued.

“Initiatives like Operation Cross Country shine a much needed spotlight on criminals that prey on vulnerable young children,” said United States Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia William Ihlenfeld II. “As law enforcement officers, our primary focus is on keeping communities safe.”

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