Thirty-seven suspects have been arrested in connection with a large scale child sex crimes and human trafficking operation, police in Phoenix, Arizona, said Friday.
“The Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, and Chandler Police Departments partnered with Homeland Security and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office for ‘Operation Broken Hearts,’ an undercover operation targeting sexual predators engaged in child sex crimes and human trafficking,” Fox 10 reported.
In a Facebook post, Phoenix police shared photos of some of the suspects arrested:
The Phoenix Police Department recently partnered with the City of Mesa Police Department, Tempe Police Department,…
“Throughout the operational period, officers and undercover detectives placed ads on websites and apps which are commonly sought out by suspects seeking illegal sex acts with children,” the department said.
“These suspects solicited and/or brokered deals for various sex acts and were subsequently arrested,” it continued.
In April, AZFamily.com reported that Phoenix was still a hot spot for sex trafficking despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Trafficking moved online at the beginning of the pandemic but victims were later forced back onto the streets, advocates told the outlet.
“Victims are wearing less and less clothing, and they are having to do more to attract customers. But there are lots of customers out there,” said Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, Director of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research at Arizona State University.
In January, dozens of missing children were rescued in Southern California during a human trafficking probe dubbed ‘Operation Lost Angels,” according to Breitbart News.
“Human trafficking is a pervasive and insidious crime that threatens the safety of our young people, who are the future of our communities,” Michel Moore, chief of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) said at the time.
On Friday, Phoenix police explained that the agencies’ efforts were part of a nationwide effort to stop the illegal activity.
The department also urged those with information about someone being trafficked to call local law enforcement or the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 or visit humantraffickinghotline.org.