U.S. law enforcement agencies have conducted a nationwide sex trafficking sting that led to over 1,000 arrests, authorities said on Friday.
The arrests were made in the latest round of operations under the National Johns Suppression Initiative (NJSI) that targets sex trafficking in the United States.
A total of 37 law enforcement agencies across 17 states joined the move in late July, the 14th of its kind under the NJSI.
According to Thomas J. Dart, Sheriff of Cook County in the state of Illinois, over 1,000 sex buyers were arrested in the massive operation, 15 of them facing trafficking-related charges, while 81 victims, 75 adults and 6 juveniles, were rescued.
Authorities in Texas’s Harris County and Seattle respectively nabbed 170 and 160 people, the most during the operations that Dart stood behind.
Authorities in Cook County also made 141 arrests.
On Thursday, the sheriff proposed to set up a public database that would list the names of sex buyers who are caught for a second or subsequent time.
Since the NJSI operations started in 2011, nearly 8,000 sex buyers have been arrested by law enforcement officers.
“Sex trafficking is a form of modern slavery that exists throughout the U.S. and other countries,’’ anti-human trafficking groups said.
The U.S. National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children estimated in 2016 that 1 in 6 endangered runaways reported to them was likely a sex trafficking victim.