100 suspects arrested in WI during sex trafficking bust - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

10 children rescued, 100 suspects arrested in WI during sex trafficking operation

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A three-day, nationwide operation led to about 100 arrests here in Wisconsin and saved 10 young victims of child sex trafficking.

The FBI Milwaukee office, the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) and a number of local law enforcement agencies participated in "Operation Cross Country" over the weekend. Wisconsin officials rescued the third highest number of child victims in the nation, including two teenagers in Madison.
 
"Any time we identify a single juvenile it's a success," says Jenniffer Price, special agent in charge and commander of the DOJ's Internet Crimes Against Children task force. "The fact that we identified 10 juveniles in this state is huge." 
 
The victims from Wisconsin are teens, between 16 and 17-years-old.
 
Price declined to discuss specific locations or strategies of the operation, saying investigators must stay ahead of the criminals they're chasing. Price said the teams of officers and agents worked with online leads and undercover methods while targeting known problem areas to find the young victims.
 
Madison police spokesperson Joel DeSpain says two community police teams from the east and south districts worked on the operation, including about six detectives and a lieutenant. The officers help recover the two girls in Madison.
 
Staff at Project Respect, an agency designed to support sex trafficking victims, also assisted in the sting. Staff was on scene, providing immediate help and resources for the victims.
 
"These victims are people Respect and law enforcement encounter every day," says director Jan Miyasaki. "These operations just allow us to highlight and shed light on the human cost [of sex trafficking]."
 
Miyasaki says while the sting was intended to target child sex trafficking, investigators also uncovered about a dozen adult victims and referred them to some help.
 
Advocates and investigators say the most important thing that can be done to stop sex trafficking is to help the victims get on a path to recovery and continue carrying out sting operations. 
 
Price says investigators have gotten a number of new leads and learned a lot of new information during this operation, which is likely to lead to more arrests in the future.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The Wisconsin Department of Justice, FBI and local law enforcement departments have rescued 10 children and arrested 100 suspects in a large-scale child sex trafficking operation.

Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen's office announced Monday the DOJ's Division of Criminal Investigation participated in a nationwide, 3-day effort called "Operation Cross Country VII" in Milwaukee, Madison, Wisconsin Dells and the Fox Valley.

Wisconsin is third highest in the nation for number of children rescued. During last year's operation, six children were rescued and nearly 60 people were arrested in the state.

"I'm extremely thankful to the FBI for its leadership and all of our outstanding local law enforcement partners because without their commitment and cooperation, we wouldn't be able to hold suspected traffickers accountable and rescue their victims," A.G. Van Hollen said in a written statement.

15 DCI special agents participated, along with officers with Madison, Baraboo and Lake Delton police; Sauk and Dane County Sheriff's Offices, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Attorney's Offices in Wisconsin, and Project Respect.

The FBI Milwaukee Division's special agent in charge Patricia Ferrick says many of the children and young adults had been forced into prostitution. The victims and the pimps travel through the state to work and do not necessarily reside where they were located. 10 were recovered in Milwaukee.

Undercover agents and detectives made contact with young women involved in prostitution by canvassing areas where prostitution is known to occur. All the women and girls were offered access to services for victims in the community.

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