WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Operation Cross Country X goes after those exploiting the most vulnerable of victims.
“Last Thursday through Saturday, we ran operations with 15 law enforcement agencies in different cities across Missouri and Kansas,” says Heith Janke, FBI Supervisor of Human Trafficking and Violent Crimes Against Children.
The FBI teamed up with local law enforcement to target human trafficking and the results were staggering. In Kansas and Missouri, They arrested 12 people accused of being pimps and 14 so-called johns on state and federal charges.
Officials were able to recover children who the FBI says were victimized through prostitution, all between the ages of 15-17 years old
“When the sting comes around, we all communicate and get together and set up a game plan,” says Travis Rakestraw, Lieutenant of the Exploited & Missing Child Unit.
Three of the children were found right here in Wichita.
“We find that the kids are generally runaways going towards that person that they think is going to show them that affection that they want and are after,” says Rakestraw.
But Lieutenant Rakestraw says they end up being exploited. He says stings like this are important but they rely heavily on the day-to-day undercover work by local detectives. He says his office is pleased to have saved the lives of three children, but he knows unfortunately there’s more work to be done every day.
“I am happy we got three kids. I would like to find more but then again I wish we were in a situation and at a place in our community where we didn’t have to have this at all and it was not an issue but unfortunately that is not the case,” says Rakestraw.
He says they also rely on public awareness. You can go to their website to find resources to educate yourself. And as always, he says, if you see something, say something.