The FBI, 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, reports Insider. 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.”
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.