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Operation Rolling Fire targets child predators, human traffickers; rescues 5 victims

Human RightsOperation Rolling Fire targets child predators, human traffickers; rescues 5 victims

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A three-day Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Fayetteville operation led to five child exploitation arrests and the recovery of one firearm, helped three human trafficking victims, and rescued two endangered children in Northwest Arkansas.

The HSI-led effort, dubbed Operation Rolling Fire, partnered more than 20 local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and nongovernmental organizations during a child exploitation and human trafficking recovery initiative.

“Using a victim-centered approach, HSI Fayetteville, along with our law enforcement partners and community advocates, identified and apprehended five child predators, rescued two minor children from unstable situations, and provided assistance empowering three adult females to exit the cycle of sex work and trafficking,” said HSI Little Rock Assistant Special Agent in Charge Jeremy Shein, who oversees HSI offices throughout Arkansas. “This operation demonstrates the life-changing impact to at-risk members of our community when law enforcement personnel and community advocates collaborate toward a common goal.”

Operation Rolling Fire’s first goal was to identify, locate and successfully prosecute individuals seeking to engage in criminal sexual acts with minors, and the second was to identify sex workers being exploited, provide immediate support services, and apprehend and prosecute those exploiting them for financial gain.

“Helping to identify and support the victims of human trafficking is an important part of Arkansas State Police’s mission” said Arkansas Public Safety Secretary Col. Mike Hagar. “It’s critical that we remove these women and children from a standard of life that many of us can’t even comprehend. Our goal is to provide victims of human trafficking with an avenue to find a different path.”

The operation was supported by the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office; the Arkansas State Police; the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Arkansas; the HSI Southeast Region Special Response Team; the FBI; the Benton County Sheriff’s Office; the Washington County Sheriff’s Office; the Bentonville Police Department; the Rogers Police Department; the Eureka Springs Police Department; the Berryville Police Department; the Fayetteville Police Department; the Springdale Police Department; the Harrison Police Department; the Benton County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office; and the Washington County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Advocates from the Genesis Project, Hub of Hope, RISE and Into the Light provided immediate care and support to rescued sex workers.

“I was honored to partner with HSI in Operation Rolling Fire. To successfully combat the scourge of human trafficking we must work with partners at the federal, state and local levels, and this is a perfect example of that. We were able to take the fight to the criminals and provide much-needed services to the victims’ human traffickers prey upon,” said Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin.

HSI is a leader in the global fight against human trafficking and child exploitation.

“HSI special agents utilize their broad range of authority and international footprint to identify, investigate and disrupt domestic and transnational criminal organizations engaged in human trafficking,” said HSI New Orleans acting Special Agent in Charge Edward V. Owens. “Special agents work closely with the HSI’s Victim Assistance Program to ensure that human trafficking and child exploitation victims are afforded their rights and have access to the services to which they are entitled by law. HSI provides expertise and leadership to other federal, state, local and international law enforcement partners by organizing training on strategies and best practices that can be utilized to counter this heinous crime of exploitation.”

Members of the community can report crimes, suspicious activity and suspected human trafficking to the HSI Tipline at 866-347-2423. You may also contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 800-THE-LOST to report suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children, or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 to connect human trafficking victims and survivors with critical support and services.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

Story from www.ice.gov

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity.

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