Human Trafficking Bust Leads To 102 Arrests And 47 Victims Rescued

By - August 30, 2021
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In Missouri, the attorney general’s office announced last week that law enforcement organizations in 11 states arrested 102 suspects related to human trafficking crimes. This multi-agency effort also resulted in the rescue of 47 victims and sex workers.

The AG’s office said that the multi-state bust, dubbed Operation United Front, occurred last Thursday night and Friday morning. The office added that each state handled its own operation simultaneously and shared information with law enforcement in Missouri.

Multi-State Efforts Leads To Major Results

The office noted that before this human trafficking operation, the state provided training and information about the best ways to do these complex operations with other states. Other states that were part of the operation were:

  • North Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • Minnesota
  • Oklahoma
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Wisconsin
  • South Dakota

Last week, Missouri AG Eric Schmitt said that Operation United Front was one of the largest human trafficking busts in recent history that involved unprecedented coordination between many states and jurisdictions.

Schmitt noted that when multiple law enforcement and government agencies work together, it’s possible to derail human and sex trafficking, which usually crosses many jurisdictions. Also, he said that the AG’s office in Missouri will never stop investigating and stopping human trafficking in the state, he added.

The AG’s office stated that police made arrests and rescues by using sting human trafficking operations that focused on buyer-centric and victim-centric methods. These techniques usually feature undercover police officers who set up meetups and dates with potential victims and rescue those people. Or, they may pretend they are victims and arrest the traffickers and buyers at the meetups.

Sting Took Place At A Kansas City Business

Missouri law enforcement officials noted that the sting in Missouri occurred at a business in Kansas City where two suspects were arrested. Also, four victims were rescued, and 11 victims received services to help them get out of the sex trafficking world.

Many of the sex trafficking victims are under 18 and don’t know any other way to make a living, which the traffickers exploit.

Kentucky law enforcement made the most arrests – 46 – and 21 sex trafficking victims were rescued. In Iowa, law enforcement arrested 11 suspects and seized hundreds of thousands of dollars of US currency.

In Texas, state law enforcement arrested four suspects, and seven were nabbed in Nebraska.

Law enforcement officials in Michigan also stated last week they had made several sex trafficking arrests.

Schmitt noted that the operation in South Dakota occurred at the Sturgis Biker Rally, and nine people were arrested. Eight of the arrests involved the enticement of a minor online, and another was for attempting commercial sex trafficking of someone under 18.

Iowa Law Enforcement Executed 10 Search Warrants

Iowa law enforcement was especially aggressive during the human trafficking operation. The Department of Public Safety in the state stated that it executed 10 search warrants, pinpointed five businesses that were working in sex trafficking, made 11 arrests and seized at least $50,000 in cash.

Officials for Iowa DPS stated that human trafficking hurts the state because it’s close to Chicago and Kansas City and major intersection system intersections. That’s why human trafficking is rising in Iowa, and it happens in many settings.

DPS also said that it rescued and offered medical supplies and services to sex workers and victims. Further, it arrested suspects across the US that were linked to human trafficking.

DPS said other states performed minor recovery work intended to rescue people most vulnerable and manipulate by suspected human traffickers.

Minnesota School Also Accused Of Sex Trafficking In August

The sex trafficking sting operation above produced impressive results, but sex trafficking still occurs throughout the country.

For example, an acupuncture school in Minneapolis, Minnesota, recently had a massage program shut down because of suspicions it was engaging in sex trafficking. This is a problem that has been rising in Minnesota and recently caught the attention of law enforcement.

A class-action lawsuit was filed against the American Academy of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. It alleged that the owners engaged in a scheme to steal wages from several acupuncturists.

The federal lawsuit claims that the previous owner didn’t offer meal breaks or overtime and withheld 5% of the acupuncturists’ salaries to reduce losses from canceled appointments.

The Office of Higher Education in Minnesota closed the school’s massage and acupuncturist programs and ordered the owners to sell the business in 2020. This was after the office discovered the company was engaged in human trafficking and prostitution.

AAAOM was highlighted in a news story that dug into signs of sex trafficking in schools across the United States. In addition, researchers involved in the case highlighted several failures in enforcement and oversight related to the problem.

However, the attorneys for the defendants have denied the sex trafficking and wage-withholding allegations.