Last week’s arrest of two men in the SCV accused of arranging to have sex with a child was part of a massive nationwide operation by law enforcement to stop sex trafficking, rescue sexually exploited kids and arrest their abusers, according to a news release issued Wednesday by the FBI.
Operation Cross Country, the FBI’s annual law enforcement action focused on recovering underage victims of prostitution and drawing the public’s attention to the problem of sex trafficking at home and abroad, wrapped up late last week with the recovery of 84 sexually exploited juveniles and the arrests of 120 traffickers.
As part of that probe, two men – each holding down professional jobs – were arrested a week ago by detectives of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Human Trafficking Bureau working in conjunction with the FBI.
The annual operation which reached into the SCV for arrests, cast a wider net this year, taking in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Cambodia, the Philippines, and Thailand.
Their efforts were coordinated with the FBI and its local, state, and federal law enforcement partners—along with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children — during the four-day law enforcement action that ended October 15.
“We at the FBI have no greater mission than to protect our nation’s children from harm,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “Unfortunately, the number of traffickers arrested—and the number of children recovered—reinforces why we need to continue to do this important work.”
None of the 84 sexually exploited children rescued during the operation were linked to the SCV, Laura Eimiller, spokeswoman for the FBI told The Signal Wednesday.
“There were operations that took place in the Santa Clarita area,” she said.
This year’s Operation Cross Country involved 55 FBI field offices and 78 FBI-led Child Exploitation Task Forces composed of more than 500 law enforcement agencies.
Hundreds of law enforcement personnel took part in sting operations in hotels, casinos, truck stops, and through social media sites frequented by pimps, prostitutes, and their customers.
All of the recovered minors were offered services by specialists who are either part of the FBI’s Victim Services Division or members of other local and state law enforcement agencies.
More than 100 victim specialists provided on-scene services that included crisis intervention as well as resources for basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, and medical attention.
The two local suspects arrested during the operation include a 63-year-old respiratory therapist who lives in Oak Park and a 46-year-old finance manager of Valencia.
Each man was taken into custody, each with bail set at $75,000.
Operation Cross Country is the third sting operation carried out in the SCV in the last seven months.
The latest arrests bring to 10 the number of men arrested for arranging to meet a minor for sex since March.
Last week’s sting operation differed slightly from the previous operations carried out this past Spring, and involved agents of the FBI.
“They were similar operations,” Lt. Dan Stanley of the LASD’s Human Trafficking Bureau told The Signal Friday.
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