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21 victims, including 2 children, rescued in Kentucky human trafficking sting

A large scale multistate human trafficking sting results in rescue of 21 victims and 46 arrests.

A multistate human trafficking sting dubbed 'Operation United Front' has resulted in the rescue of 59 victims and the arrest of 102 individuals. 

In Kentucky, the sting was conducted on Thursday, August 26 and it included 29 agencies across Kentucky. It resulted in the rescue of 21 victims, including 2 children and the arrest of 46 suspects in connection to human trafficking.

During a morning news conference, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said the sting could be a first that involves so many different states and agencies. The 12-state human trafficking operation was led by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office and Missouri Highway Patrol.

Kentucky State Police (KSP) organized and led the sting effort in the commonwealth. KSP conducted four trafficking operations simultaneously in:

  • Bowling Green
  • Elizabethtown
  • McCracken County
  • Northern Kentucky

“Operation United Front is a great example of creating a better and safer Kentucky, one that is free of this hideous crime,” Gov. Beshear said. “Thank you to all the law enforcement agencies and organizations involved for rescuing these victims and holding these heinous offenders accountable. Unfortunately, this crime is occurring in every county, in every community across the commonwealth, but we will keep fighting to make life better and safer for all Kentuckians, especially our children.”

Human trafficking has been a big issue in Kentucky. Governor Beshear said the state is ninth in the country for his crime. 

RELATED: Human trafficking isn't like what you see in movies. Here's what to look for

Earlier this year, Attorney General Daniel Cameron, announced the "Your Eyes Save Lives" campaign. The mission is to educate more people about the problem so they can be part of the solution.

During the January kickoff, Cameron said in 2020, 136 cases of human trafficking from Kentucky were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Cameron said human trafficking is oftentimes underreported.

RELATED: 'It's a collective responsibility.' | Kentucky attorney general launches campaign to end human trafficking

UofL Health also announced their Peace Hospital will begin screening for signs of human trafficking when new patients arrive.

Other states that participated in "Operation United Front," bring the combined effort to 59 victims being rescued and 102 suspects arrested in connection to human trafficking.

Each state conducted its own operation simultaneously while sharing information with the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Missouri Attorney General’s Office. 

Operation United Front was a success because of the hard work and dedication of all law enforcement professionals working together,” said KSP Commissioner Phillip Burnett Jr. “This sends a message to human traffickers across the country that their actions will not be tolerated."

How to help stop human trafficking

For more information on recognizing human trafficking, especially in fields that might come across it more often, click here. PATH Coalition of Kentucky also has resources and ways to get involved.

If you suspect someone is being trafficking, call the Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

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