12 kids rescued, 8 arrested in Detroit area human trafficking sweep

DETROIT (WXYZ) - A nationwide human trafficking sweep rescued 12 children who are victims of sex trafficking in southeast Michigan.

The effort, codenamed Operation Cross Country XI ran from October 12-15 and also led to the arrest of 8 human traffickers and 46 adults temporarily being taken into custody in both the Detroit area and the Flint area.

Across the nation, 84 minors were rescued and 120 traffickers were arrested.

In the Detroit area, agencies involved in the sweep included the FBI, Michigan State Police, Detroit police, Warren police, Canton police, Romulus police, Huron Township police, Roseville police, Southfield police, Livonia police, Dearborn police, Madison Heights police, the IRS and Homeland Security.

“We at the FBI have no greater mission than to protect our nation’s children from harm. Unfortunately, the number of traffickers arrested—and the number of children recovered— reinforces why we need to continue to do this important work,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “This operation isn't just about taking traffickers off the street. It's about making sure we offer help and a way out to these young victims who find themselves caught in a vicious cycle of abuse."

“The success of OCCXI in Michigan is due to the local, state and federal partners who share the same passionate commitment to disrupt and prevent the sexual exploitation of children and adults”, said David P. Gelios, Special Agent in Charge, Detroit Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “While the recovery of exploited juvenile victims remains our priority, the FBI will continue to work tirelessly to rescue anyone being commercially trafficked and exploited”.

Local FBI officials said, when traffickers used to only use force to get victims, now they have other means.

"Now they're just using drugs like opioids and getting them addicted and that addiction is so strong that they're willing to do just about anything to get that next high,” said Tim Wiley, the FBI Public Relations Officer for the Detroit office. 

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