Homeland Security operation nets dozens of human trafficking-related arrests during The World Games
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Birmingham released the results of a four-week joint operation as part of the World Games Human Exploitation Task Force that comprised federal, state and local law enforcement.
The operation dubbed, “Operation Games STOP” (Strategic Trafficking Operation) targeted human exploitation-related offenses, drug trafficking and other public safety threats in the lead up to The World Games being hosted in the Birmingham metro area.
The World Games has thrust Birmingham into the international spotlight. Thousands of guests from all over the world spent time in the Magic City.
The operation results:
- 34 arrests of commercial sex buyers
- six arrests on human trafficking related charges
- eight arrests of adult males for online enticement of a minor and traveling to meet a minor for sex
- 15 adult sex trafficking victims identified and provided services
- four minor victims of labor trafficking identified and provided services
- two minor sex trafficking victims identified and provided services
- 11 minor victims of online sexual exploitation and sextortion identified
- seven adult labor trafficking victims identified and provided services
- seven missing and endangered minors were located, recovered, and provided services
- nine felony drug arrests
- one arrest of a fugitive from Michigan on charges of felony impersonation of a police officer
- over a dozen outstanding state and local arrest warrants served on people encountered, including one for attempted murder
- seizure of nine firearms
- over 20 search warrants executed
- seizure of more than $30K in counterfeit goods
“Major sporting events like this routinely attract transnational criminal organizations and other bad actors involved in illicit criminal activity such as human exploitation crimes, drug trafficking and the sale of counterfeit merchandise,” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees HSI operations in Georgia and Alabama. “Working in conjunction with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners we executed a successful operation that disrupted potential threats to public safety, rescued many human trafficking victims and connected them with the trauma-informed victim support services that they will need to recover.”
Participating agencies include: the Alabama Fusion Center, the Birmingham Police Department, the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, the Fultondale Police Department, the Bessemer Police Department, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, the McLennan County Texas Sheriff’s Office, the Jacksonville, Ala. Police Department, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the Hoover Police Department, the Oxford Police Department, the East Metro Area Crime Center (EMACC), the Homewood Police Department, the Vestavia Hills Police Department, the Butler County Sheriff’s Office, the Gwinnet County (Georgia) Sheriff’s Office, the Tuscaloosa Police Department, the Northport Police Department, the West Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force and the FBI.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the DHS Center for Countering Human Trafficking also provided onsite personnel for the World Games and have provided enhanced capabilities and resources to these investigations, while also protecting both adults and minors from exploitation. Additionally, the International Association of Human Trafficking Investigators), F.R.E.E. International, Blanket Fort Hope, and G6 Hospitality LLC, provided valuable assistance to operations, outreach, and training.
The Junior League of Birmingham provided human trafficking signage across the Birmingham and throughout Alabama, sponsoring training, and providing food, water and other essentials to those personnel working long hours throughout the Games.
Victim services were provided to trafficking victims by Worthy2, Hope Filled Rooms, Trafficking Hope, The WellHouse and HSI’s own victim assistance program personnel.
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