Child abuse
The FBI says they have rescued 84 children from alleged human trafficking and sexual abuse situations. iStock file pic

The FBI said that they have freed 84 children, one aged just three months old, after a series of raids across the US targeting suspected child abusers and human traffickers.

The bureau say that over a four-day period between 12 and 15 October, 120 human trafficking suspects were arrested in Operation Cross Country XI.

Using 55 FBI field offices and involving 78 state and local task forces, officers raided hotels, casinos, and truck stops, on street corners and via online websites.

The operation, involving hundreds of FBI agents and local police officers, took place with several international partners, including the UK, Canada, Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines.

Authorities say that the youngest victim recovered was a three-month-old baby girl, with the average age of the victims being 15.

The baby was recovered on 13 October in Denver, Colorado, where she was living in a home with a five-year-old girl.

Officers say that the suspected trafficker was a friend of the children's family and offered an undercover agent the chance to have sex with the children for $600 (£454).

The alleged trafficker was arrested while Child Protective Services are working on finding a secure safe placement for the children.

On the same day, a 16-year old female victim was recovered in El Paso, Texas, after an undercover agent called an online advertisement for entertainment.

A 21-year-old female met the agent and offered sex with her and the 16-year-old girl for $200. The woman was arrested on federal charges, in addition to a second adult female who drove the minor to the meeting point.

Many of the children are receiving medical and mental health counselling after being taken into care by child protective custody.

"We at the FBI have no greater mission than to protect our nation's children from harm. Unfortunately, the number of traffickers arrested – and the number of children recovered – reinforces why we need to continue to do this important work," said FBI Director Christopher Wray in a statement.

"This operation isn't just about taking traffickers off the street. It's about making sure we offer help and a way out to these young victims who find themselves caught in a vicious cycle of abuse."

Operation Cross Country XI is part of the FBI's Innocence Lost National Initiative, which was introduced in 2003 and has led to the identification of 6,500 children, the agency said in a press release.

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