Investigation finds 33 missing children in Southern California, FBI says

February 28, 2021

A multiagency investigation recently found 33 missing children in Southern California, including eight who had been sexually exploited, the FBI said in a news release Friday.

Operation “Lost Angels” began Jan. 11 amid Human Trafficking Awareness Month and involved more than two dozen agencies in an effort to identify and find missing children, the FBI said.

Officials said two of the children were found multiple times at known locations for commercial sex trafficking and explained endangered children often return to such situations for various reasons as a part of a “harmful cycle” of abuse.

Several other children had been sexually exploited in the past and were considered “vulnerable missing children” before officials located them, the FBI said.

Officials arrested one person on state human trafficking charges. The agencies also opened multiple investigations, the FBI said. Some of the “minor victims” were arrested for probation violations, robbery or other misdemeanors, and one was a victim of a noncustodial parental kidnapping, the FBI said.

A spokesperson from the Los Angeles bureau of the FBI did not immediately provide further details about the children, such as their ages. It was not immediately clear if the cases were linked in any way.

The FBI said its caseload of crimes related to sex and labor trafficking has “increased significantly” in the past several years. The FBI began collecting human trafficking data in 2013. Since then, the number of states participating in data collection has increased, along with the number of reported incidents.

Read the full story by Grace Hauk on Yahoo! News.