Human trafficking operation in 12 states rescues dozens

A multi-state human trafficking operation resulted in the rescue of dozens of victims and the arrest of more than a hundred suspects, Missouri’s attorney general said. 

"Operation United Front" was led by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office and the Missouri State Highway Patrol and included several other agencies from 11 other states across the country.

Each state conducted its own operation while working in conjunction with Missouri authorities. 

Most operations utilized undercover officers who arranged "dates" or meetups with potential human trafficking victims or posed as a victim themselves to meet with suspected buyers or traffickers. 

Attorney General Eric Schmitt said in a news release that a total of 47 victims and sex workers, including two minors, were rescued and 102 suspects were arrested across several states.

"Operation United Front was an unprecedented human trafficking operation that brought together law enforcement agencies from different jurisdictions – something that rarely happens," Schmitt said.

Agencies from other states involved included Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin. 

Four victims were rescued in Missouri and two people were arrested.

The operation in Kentucky brought in the biggest rescue and most arrests, with 21 victims rescued and 26 arrests made. The two minors that were rescued were from Kentucky. 

Schmitt said a large amount of currency was also seized in Iowa. 

Schmitt said South Dakota’s operation took place at the Sturgis Biker Rally, where nine people were arrested. Eight of those arrests were for enticement of a minor using the internet, and the other was for attempted commercial sex trafficking of a minor. 

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"When we all come together, we can affect change and more effectively fight human trafficking, a crime that is often multi-jurisdictional in nature," Schmitt said.

This story was reported from Detroit.