A dozen children in Michigan are safe tonight and more than 50 others are in jail right now for human trafficking.
It’s all part of a nationwide effort code-named “Operation Cross Country XI.”
During a four day sweep, FBI agents teamed up with local law enforcement agencies across the country with the goal of rescuing underage victims from a life of prostitution.
In the latest sweep, FBI agents helped rescue 84 children nationwide and put 120 sex traffickers behind bars.
FBI agents say the average age of those recovered in the sweep was 15 years old.
The youngest, was just 3 months old.
“We look at a lot of social media advertisements and we try to identify those advertisements that would be associated with minors,” says Supervisory Special Agent Ken Lavictoire based in Grand Rapids.
Lavictoire says during the operation, agents in Michigan rescued 12 children and arrested more than 50 others who were involved in prostitution.
A lifestyle Lavictoire says is not easy for most to get out of.
“The money, the drugs, and sometimes the people who are trafficking them have a very big domineering personality over them and they don’t feel that they can escape. So a lot of this is not the arrest, it’s the recovery and an opportunity to present resources to get out of that business altogether,” says Lavictoire.
But it’s the recovery process that has others like Shari Montgomery concerned.
“Now that they’re freed, where do they go,” says Montgomery.
Montgomery is currently working to build the House of Promise.
A local safe house where victims could go to recover and rebuild so they don’t end up back in the life of prostitution.
“There’s just no cookie cutter for any of these girls, they’re all very unique and they all have very unique stories and their treatments have to be just as unique,” says Montgomery.
So while they may be safe for now, Montgomery says some of those rescued could find themselves victims in the future again.
If you believe someone is being human trafficked or would like to get help, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1 (888) 373-7888.
The House of Promise will be holding an informational breakfast on November 1st at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Lansing from 8-9am.
To donate head over to the House of Promise website.