2 juveniles, 35 adults rescued from suspected sex traffickers in greater KC area: FBI

What to do if you suspect human trafficking

If you see what you think might be evidence of human trafficking, call the ICE Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.
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If you see what you think might be evidence of human trafficking, call the ICE Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.

Two juveniles and 35 adults in the greater Kansas City area were rescued from alleged commercial sex trafficking operations as part of a nationwide initiative led by the FBI, according to a news release the agency released Wednesday.

Throughout July, the FBI coordinated the effort across the country, which resulted in the identification or recovery of 103 child victims and the arrest 67 suspected sex traffickers. The sweep resulted in 60 new federal investigations, the news release said.

The Kansas City Division of the FBI said it worked on “Operation Independence Day” in partnership with other law enforcement agencies in Missouri and Kansas: the Kansas City Police Department, the Overland Park Police Department, the Wichita Police Department, the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, the Branson Police Department and the Springfield Police Department.

The FBI said it also worked with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to help identify young runaways and missing kids who may have been subjected to human trafficking.

Supervisory Special Agent Craig Tremaroli, who oversees the FBI Kansas City Division’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force, discussed the issue in Wednesday’s statement.

“Commercial sex trafficking of minors is a continual problem, and thousands of children are exploited throughout our country for commercial sex,” Tremaroli said. “The FBI and our law enforcement partners remain dedicated every day to investigating these atrocious crimes committed against children.”

In the same statement, Daniel Netemeyer, assistant special agent in charge in Kansas City, said enforcement efforts such as Operation Independence Day “shine a spotlight on these heinous crimes” which target children.

“The FBI, along with our law enforcement partners, are committed to working tirelessly to bring those responsible to justice and to provide victims with the services they need,” Netemeyer said.

Kaitlyn Schwers covers breaking news and crime at night for The Kansas City Star. Originally from Willard, Mo., she spent nearly three years reporting in Arkansas and Illinois before returning to Missouri and joining The Star in 2017.