DENVER, Colo. (KRDO) -- Tuesday, the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office joined the FBI Denver in a press conference to discuss the results of a nationwide child sex trafficking investigation.
According to the DA's Office, Operation Cross Country was a national FBI initiative to recover sex trafficking victims.
This comes just 10 days after a man was arrested in Colorado Springs for trying to force a 14-year-old girl to post explicit content on the website 'Only Fans' for money.
"It's imperative to recognize that we're holding these monsters accountable and we're making sure that their victims are receiving the services necessary,” said Arapahoe County Sheriff Tyler Brown.
In June, five people were arrested by Colorado Springs Police for trafficking a 15-year-old girl. The FBI says most of the kids rescued by Operation Cross Country were even younger, at around 13.
"During the operation, FBI Denver and our partners recovered and provided services to 11 child victims of sexual exploitation," said Michael Schneider, Special Agent in Charge - FBI Denver Field Office. "In addition, 27 missing or endangered children were located, and we were able to provide services to 15 of them. 11 adult victims were also recovered. Six traffickers were identified, two of whom were arrested on unrelated felony warrants.”
Law enforcement said all of the victims in the local investigation were recovered from the Denver metro area, and that social media is one of the greatest tools sex traffickers use to find victims.
"In 2020 we saw online recruitment increased by 22 percent," said Ashley Smith Thompson, a Case Response Specialist with Polaris. "There was a 125 percent increase in reports of recruitment on Facebook from 2019 to 2020, and a 95 percent increase on Instagram.”
Polaris says anyone can become a victim, but people who suffer from poverty, abuse, and dysfunctional home lives are those at greatest risk.
The majority of traffickers are not strangers approaching you off the street. Polaris says they're mostly people the victim knows, and can often be family members. They encourage everyone to learn more about common misconceptions regarding human trafficking, by clicking here.
For more information on how to recognize human trafficking, click here.
Colorado Human Trafficking Hotline: 866-455-5075
Watch the press conference below: