LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The FBI partnered with Arkansas law enforcement agencies in a nationwide enforcement campaign called "Operation Cross Country," which helped identify and locate 200 victims of sex trafficking.
Throughout the operation, officials conducted targeted operations to identify and apprehend offenders, dismantle criminal networks, and prevent further harm to victims.
Over the course of the two-week operation, FBI Little Rock identified and recovered three victims, arrested one individual for attempting to engage in unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, and arrested another individual in connection with the recovery of a minor.
According to reports, 126 suspects of child sexual exploitation and human trafficking offenses, along with 68 suspects of trafficking were identified or arrested.
"Enticing children or luring children or somehow convincing children to engage in sex trafficking truly is a problem," FBI Little Rock Special Agent James Dawson said.
The suspects identified will be subject to an additional investigation for potential charges.
Additionally, the FBI and its partners located 59 minor victims of child sex trafficking and child sexual exploitation offenses and located 59 actively missing children in total in July.
Three of those minors were located here in Arkansas.
"If you put that into perspective, that's about 5% of the individuals that were recovered in Arkansas," Dawson said. "We have less than 1% of the nation's population."
Dawson said Arkansas's highways make the state susceptible to these crimes as Interstate 40 and Interstate 30 are commonly traveled by predators and sex traffickers.
Both interstates connect to major cities around the nation.
"Human traffickers prey on the most vulnerable members of our society, and their crimes scar victims—many of them children—for life. The FBI's commitment to combatting this threat will never waver, and we will continue to send our message that these atrocities will not be tolerated," said FBI Director Christopher Wray. "This operation would not be possible without the commitment and collaboration from our state and local law enforcement partners, and it demonstrates our continued focus on actively pursuing the criminals responsible for these heinous violations and connecting those impacted with dedicated victim services and resources.
FBI Little Rock agents partnered with Arkansas victim advocacy organizations and law enforcement partners from Baxter County Sheriff’s Office, Benton County Sheriff’s Office, Bentonville Police Department, El Dorado Police Department, Greenland School District Police Department, Little Rock Police Department, Lowell Police Department, Mountain Home Police Department, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Pea Ridge Police Department, Rogers Police Department, Siloam Springs Police Department, and the Tontitown Police Department for this operation.