There is much to be disappointed in with Christopher Wray, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. His inaction in assisting Senate investigations of the “muh Russia” coup attempt, his heel-dragging on any kind of arrests for rioters and Black Lives Matters terrorists, and his overall seeming reluctance to even admit there was a coup or that his own Bureau was up to its earlobes in it. However, while he has continued to bang the “Russia-a-threat-to-elections” drum, he has recently correctly identified China as the greatest threat to the United States today. Well, that’s something.
Wray has been doing something, at least. Indeed, that “something” is nothing less than the most aggressive campaign in American history to nab rings of child exploitation and trafficking that, in 2016, had some 5,500 cases reported nationwide. One reason we know so little about this campaign is that it is spread out across the United States, with hundreds of different raids at different times. It has encompassed at least three main operations: “Operation Safe Summer” in 2018, “Operation Cross Country XI,” in January 2019, and “Operation Safe Summer 2" in mid-2019. It appears, however, that the crackdown began in October 2017, in an unnamed operation that involved 55 field offices.
An Indianapolis raid on October 18 was part of what the FBI called a nationwide crackdown. It captured 120 alleged traffickers and rescued 84 children. Nationwide, agents raided hotels, casinos, and truck stops. In that same crackdown, 54 perps were arrested in Detroit and 8 kids rescued.
California may have set the ball in motion in early 2017 when nearly 500 people were arrested on human trafficking charges, rescuing 28 children and 27 adults who had been “coerced into prostitution”. Human trafficking was rampant in California, which had more cases of human trafficking than any other state.
At the end of 2017, President Trump issued an executive order blocking all transactions involving private property of persons involved in human rights abuse. The order could have serious financial consequences on people who exploited or abused children in human trafficking. But it also had the potential to the shutdown of companies such as Craigslist, MySpace, Backpage, and other online service providers where ads for selling adults and children for sex were regularly found. This was followed in 2018 by legislation called the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), also referred to as SESTA, which would cut into the broad protections websites have from legal liability for content posted by their users. Those protections found in the Communications Decency Act (1996) would be amended to create an exception for sex trafficking. On April 11, 2018, President Trump signed FOSTA into law (with, of course, the Washington Post calling it “controversial”).
The signing was timely, as the FBI kicked off “Operation Safe Summer” in May 2018 that was heavily focused on the Atlanta, Georgia region. In those raids, the FBI announced it had rescued 150 exploited or missing children.
In January 2019, another national sting, “Operation Cross Country XI,” rescued 84 children in “multiple states” and arrested 120.
With Operation Safe Summer deemed a success, it was repeated in May 2019 with “Operation Safe Summer II,” which rescued 231 more children in Atlanta. By that time, the FBI estimated that more than 23,500 runaways reported, with one in seven believed to be part of child sex trafficking across the country. In Florida, Operation Safe Summer saw 15 arrested for crimes against children.
Some statistics downplayed the number of missing, abducted and runaway children and are to be used cautiously. In 1990, the Justice Department published its first comprehensive study (called “NISMART-1") and its follow-up NISMART-2, which is the most recent, in 2002. The NISMART-2 study estimated that 797,500 children were reported missing in that year, of which only 115 were labeled kidnappings, of whom 40 were killed. Since 1997, through 2011, the FBI noted that the number of missing persons had fallen 31%. For perspective, in 2014, with an American population of 318 million, of whom 74 million were children, that would mean that under this analysis, only about 115 of the victims would have actually been victims of kidnappings. The rest were taken by family members in divorce disputes, erroneously reported as missing by caregivers, ran away, or were told by their families never to return (due to drug use or alcoholism).
Those estimates seem incredibly low and were easily topped in a single sting in Atlanta, which, appeared to be a center for trafficking operations. For example, in March 2019, the FBI estimated about 419 missing or runaway children were believed to be on the streets of the five-county metro region. Employing 27 different Georgia law enforcement agencies headed up by the FBI's Metro Atlanta Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking (MATCH) task force, the FBI in May 2019 rescued 231 children in the metro Atlanta area, which by itself challenged the numbers provided from NISMART estimates. The offensive continued in September 2019 when the Franklin Co., Ohio Sheriff’s Office arrested over 100 in a single sting, including the youth director at the Courtright Church in Columbus and an ER doctor. Among those arrested were 24 men caught “when they showed up at an undisclosed location with the intention of meeting a child for sex, Major Steven Tucker of the Franklin County Sheriff's Office said.”
There was no letup either: in August 2019, the FBI staged nation-wide busts, rescuing another 100 victims. Once again, California led the way with more child exploiters than any other state, and the state was targeted again in February 2020 when “hundreds” were arrested. The majority of the arrests (over 50) were in Stanislaus County in the sting dubbed "Operation Reclaim and Rebuild.” Then, in April 2020, another 58 suspects were arrested in Minnesota, with 28 children rescued.
I could go on and on. A fairly comprehensive list of worldwide news about individuals charged or convicted of child trafficking appears here. Nor is the attack on child trafficking confined to the United States: In June 2016 a massive sting in Barcelona, Spain resulted in 12 arrests and “identified” over 1,000 victims (though the report did not say how many were actually rescued).
Many who suspect there is an international conspiracy in human trafficking with central connections thought that the arrest of Jeffrey Epstein in July 2019 on sex trafficking would shed light on the network. That, of course, was temporarily sidetracked by his “suicide” until the early July 2020 arrest of his accomplice (and, some say, procurer) Ghislane Maxwell in New Hampshire. She apparently seemed nonchalant about the arrest, as though she were expecting it.
The significance of the Epstein/Maxwell arrests is that they go straight to some very big names in elite circles and in the world of politics. Maxwell, who purportedly kept a copy of Epstein’s records, allegedly has information on England’s Prince Andrew and on former President Bill Clinton, among others. But there were plenty of names on the flight manifest for Epstein’s plane, dubbed the “Lolita Express’ because it supposedly took “clients” for sex with underage girls on Epstein’s Caribbean Island. Now, it appears, Maxwell has the keys to the Epstein evidence locker, and there remains a suspicion that once the locker is opened, there will be an earthquake in Washington D.C. as well as Hollywood.
Meanwhile, those who have waited in vain for indictments of the “muh Russia” coup plotters, such as James Comey, Andrew McCabe, John Brennan, James Clapper, and others have held out hope that the iceberg may be approached from the bottom, and that the pedo arrests will eventually wind their way to, perhaps, the Clinton Foundation. Whatever Christopher Wray has not been doing when it comes to indicting the coup plotters, it appears at least the FBI has been engaged in a war on human trafficking. We can all be thankful for that.
Larry Schweikart is the co-author with Michael Allen of the New York Times #1 bestseller, A Patriot’s History of the United States, author of Reagan: The American President, and founder of Wild World of History, a history curriculum website for grades 9-12 (www.wildworldofhistory.com)