A 12-state human-trafficking operation led by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office and the Missouri State Highway Patrol has led to 102 arrests and the rescue of 47 victims and sex workers, including two minors. Operation United Front entailed simultaneous state-level human-trafficking operations, and is believed to be the first Attorney General-led multi-state operation of its kind. State and federal law-enforcement agencies participated in the operation.
A press release says using both buyer- and victim-centric “sting” human-trafficking operations, each state conducted its own operation simultaneously, while sharing information and data with the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Missouri Attorney General’s Office. Prior to the operation, Missouri offered training and information about how to best conduct these operations to participating states.
These operations typically use undercover officers who arrange “dates” or meetups with potential human-trafficking victims and rescue that victim or sex worker and provide needed services, or pose as a victim themselves and arrest buyers or traffickers.
“The Missouri Attorney General’s Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force has been recognized as a national leader for our efforts to investigate and eradicate human trafficking in Missouri. Through that task force, we were able to engage law enforcement agencies and attorneys general from across the country to organize and lead Operation United Front, which was a massive success, rescuing 47 victims, including two minors, and making 102 arrests across 12 states,” Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said. “Operation United Front was an unprecedented human trafficking operation that brought together law enforcement agencies from different jurisdictions – something that rarely happens. When we all come together, we can affect change and more effectively fight human trafficking, a crime that is often multi-jurisdictional in nature. My Office will not stop in our quest to investigate and eradicate human trafficking in Missouri.”
Across the country, agencies participated or conducted separate state level operations: Missouri Attorney General’s Office, Missouri State Highway Patrol, Iowa Department of Public Safety, Kentucky Attorney General’s Office, Kentucky State Police, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Nebraska State Patrol, Nebraska Human Trafficking Task Force, North Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, Oklahoma City Police Department, Tulsa Police Department, South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Texas Attorney General’s Office, Texas Human Trafficking Rescue Alliance Task Force, Round Rock Police Department, Austin Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, numerous Kansas City-area law enforcement and nonprofit DeliverFund.
Missouri’s operation, which was a victim-centric operation, took place at a local commercial business in Kansas City, and resulted in two arrests and the rescue of four victims. Eleven victims were provided needed services.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Missouri Attorney General’s Office served as the main communications hub to coordinate other states’ operations.
Missouri: two arrests made, four victims rescued;
Illinois: three arrests made, one victim rescued;
Iowa: 11 arrests made, large amount of currency seized;
Kentucky: 46 arrests made, 21 victims rescued, two minor victims rescued;
Minnesota: three arrests made, eight victims rescued;
Nebraska: seven arrests made;
North Dakota: three arrests made, six victims rescued;
Oklahoma: seven arrests made, one victim rescued;
South Dakota: nine arrests;
Tennessee: four arrests made;
Texas: two arrests made, four victims rescued; and
Wisconsin: five arrests made.
Services were offered to 41.