21 victims rescued, 46 arrested after multistate human trafficking sting
FRANKFORT, Ky. (KBSI) – A multistate human trafficking sting in Kentucky rescued 21 victims, including two minors and arrested 46 people.
Operation United Front is a multistate human trafficking sting carried out Aug. 26 by 29 agencies across Kentucky. The 12-state human trafficking operation, led by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office and Missouri Highway Patrol, is believed to be the first multistate operation of its kind.
Kentucky conducted four trafficking operations simultaneously in Bowling Green, Elizabethtown, McCracken County and Northern Kentucky. The Kentucky State Police (KSP) organized and led the commonwealth’s effort.
“Operation United Front is a great example of creating a better and safer Kentucky, one that is free of this hideous crime,” Gov. Beshear said in a news release to media. “Thank you to all the law enforcement agencies and organizations involved for rescuing these victims and holding these heinous offenders accountable. Unfortunately, this crime is occurring in every county, in every community across the commonwealth, but we will keep fighting to make life better and safer for all Kentuckians, especially our children.”
Officials in participating states rescued a total of 59 victims, providing needed medical services to 41, and arrested 102 suspects across the country in connection with human trafficking.
Each state conducted its own operation simultaneously, while sharing information with the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Missouri Attorney General’s Office. Before the operation, Missouri offered training and information about how to conduct these operations to participating states.
“Operation United Front was a success because of the hard work and dedication of all law enforcement professionals working together,” said KSP Commissioner Phillip Burnett Jr. “This sends a message to human traffickers across the country that their actions will not be tolerated. We will be vigilant in finding those who prey upon our most vulnerable, especially our children. While we as law enforcement are responsible for investigating the cases and arresting the individuals involved, there is a whole other dynamic to these cases and that is the care provided by the victim services community.”
Several Kentucky agencies supported efforts in Operation United Front. Those agencies include: Anderson County Sheriff’s Office; Boone County Sheriff’s Office; Bowling Green Police Department; Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport Police Department; Department of Homeland Security; Elizabethtown Police Department; Florence Police Department; Grayson County Sheriff’s Office; Greater Hardin County Drug Task Force; Hart County Sheriff’s Office; Homeland Security Intelligence; Homeland Security Investigations, Louisville; Kenton County Police Department; Kentucky Office of the Attorney General; LaRue County Sheriff’s Office; Lawrenceburg Police Department; Marshall County Sheriff’s Office; McCracken County Police Department; Nelson County Sheriff’s Office; Paducah Police Department; Radcliff Police Department; U.S. Secret Service; Shepherdsville Police Department; Simpson County Sheriff’s Office; South Central Kentucky Drug Task Force; Warren County Drug Task Force; and Western Kentucky University Police Department.
Additional organizations provided victim support services including medical, housing, food and other needed services. Among the organizations providing aid were Barren County Area Child Advocacy Center, Catholic Charities, Department for Community Based Services, Kentucky State Police Victim Advocates, Northern Kentucky Children Advocacy Center, Refuge for Women, Southeast Christian Church, Salvation Army and Salvation Army of Cincinnati.
The Kentucky Office of Attorney General’s Department of Criminal Investigations and Human Trafficking Investigation Unit led the operation in McCracken County and supported operations in Warren County.
Across the country, the following agencies participated in 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; Nashville Metropolitan Police Department; 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; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Results from Operation United Front by state:
• Missouri: Two arrests made, four victims rescued
• Illinois: Three arrests made, one victim rescued
• Iowa: Three arrests made, 10 victims rescued
• Kentucky: 46 arrests made, 21 victims rescued (including two minor victims)
• Minnesota: Three arrests made, eight victims rescued
• Nebraska: Seven arrests made
• North Dakota: Three arrests made, six victims rescued
• Oklahoma: 13 arrests made, one victim rescued
• Tennessee: Six arrests made, two victims rescued
• Texas: Two arrests made, four victims rescued
• Wisconsin: Five arrests made
South Dakota conducted a weeklong operation during the Sturgis Biker Rally, and arrested nine people.
Kentuckians can report suspicions of children involved in the commercial sex trade to DCBS at 1-877-KYSAFE1 and to local law enforcement. Other concerns about possible trafficking activities should be reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. Learn more about the signs of human trafficking.