47 victims rescued, 102 arrested in human trafficking stings across Iowa and 11 other states

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A raid involving law enforcement agencies across 12 states rescued 47 victims of human trafficking and led to 102 arrests.

The sting known as “Operation United Front” took place overnight Thursday and was led by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office and the Missouri State Highway Patrol. The agencies worked with federal agencies and law enforcement in 11 other states to execute the operation.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said the massive sting is believed to be the first of its kind.

“Missouri will not stop until it becomes the most inhospitable state for human trafficking,” Schmitt said.

A total of 102 people across the country were arrested in connection with human trafficking in the past 36 hours, according to Schmitt. Officers also rescued 47 victims and sex workers. More than 40 needed some type of medical attention.

In Iowa, law enforcement executed ten search warrants, identified five businesses involved in sex trafficking, made 11 arrests and seized a large quantity of United States currency. Officials did not release the identities of those arrested or the businesses involved.

Iowa law enforcement agencies participating in the operation included the Iowa Department of Public Safety, Ankeny Police Department, Clive Police Department, Dallas County Sheriff’s Office, Des Moines Police Department, Jasper County Sheriff’s Office, Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Urbandale Police Department, Walcott Police Department, West Des Moines Police Department and the Mid-Iowa Narcotics Enforcement Task Force.

“Human trafficking uniquely affects Iowa given our proximity to major metropolitan areas like Kansas City and Chicago and the intersection of two major interstate systems,” said Iowa Department of Public Safety Commissioner Stephan Bayens.

“As a result, we know human trafficking is happening in Iowa and that it occurs in a variety of settings. We thank our law enforcement partners and state and federal prosecutors for the unified commitment to stamp out human trafficking in our cities and counties throughout Iowa. We will continue to provide training and resources designed to identify and effectively respond to human trafficking in whatever form it may take. Together we can prevent this from happening in our state, because even one victim is one too many,” Bayens added.

The dozen states involved in the sting are listed below, as well as the number of people rescued and arrested in each state.

  • Missouri
    • 2 arrests made
    • 4 victims rescued
  •  Illinois
    • 3 arrests made
    • 1 victim rescued
  •  Iowa
    • 11 arrests made
    • large amount of currency seized
  •  Kentucky
    • 46 arrests made
    • 21 victims rescued
    • 2 of the victims rescued as minors
  •  Minnesota
    • 3 arrests made
    • 8 victims rescued
  •  Nebraska
    • 7 arrests made
  •  North Dakota
    • 3 arrests made
    • 6 victims rescued
  •  Oklahoma
    • 7 arrests made
    • 1 victim rescued
  •  Tennessee
    • 4 arrests made
  •  Texas
    • 2 arrests made
    • 4 victims rescued
  •  Wisconsin
    • 5 arrests made

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