HONOLULU (KHON2) — According to FBI Honolulu, seven young sex trafficking victims were recovered on Oahu on Friday. FBI agents, the Honolulu Police Department, the Missing Child Center of Hawaii and other partners narrowed down the search and located the children.
It was all part of operation cross country.
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“To identify victims of child sex trafficking, try to offer them some help and assistance while at the same time hold accountable the traffickers and the facilitators of sex trafficking,” said FBI Violent Crime Section Section Chief Jose Perez.
The FBI’s operation located 84 child sex trafficking victims and 37 actively missing children across the nation this month. The average age of the victims was 15, with the youngest just 11 years old.
“The unfortunate reality is that the longer the child is missing or unsupervised, the higher the chance that they will be victimized,” said Amanda Leonard of the MCCH.
The FBI said two traffickers in Hawaii were arrested. Nationwide, about 85 individuals were taken into custody for child sex trafficking offenses.
Now, Sen. Mazie Hirono, (D) Hawaii, is calling for more to be done, citing a study that showed two-thirds of victims in Hawaii are Native Hawaiian.
“As the federal government goes after the sex traffickers and seeks to protect these vulnerable populations, I said to Chris Wray our FBI director, that we need to include Native Hawaiian women and girls in the population that needs to be protected,” said Hirono.
Meanwhile, police departments are adding to their toolbox when it comes to finding missing and endangered children. Big Island and Honolulu police departments recently received scent-tracking dogs with the help of the MCCH.
“They’re not just cute, they really help to locate missing children, especially the critically missing or abducted children,” Leonard said.
The FBI said it will continue to arrest traffickers and identify victims. Anyone with information on missing or endangered children is asked to call the MCCH.
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“No child should be left to fend for themselves on the streets, they should be in school learning, they should be at home being nurtured. They deserve protection, they deserve a future they deserve a childhood,” Leonard said.