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More than 3 dozen from the Tri-State charged in human trafficking sting, governor says

Operation United Front rescued 59 victims, including two minors, and led to 102 arrests across the country
Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 11:17 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2021 at 11:25 AM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WXIX) - Gov. Andy Beshear announced Operation United Front, a multistate human trafficking sting that rescued 21 victims, including two minors, and yielded 46 charged in Kentucky, including more than three dozen from the Tri-State area.

Operation United Front was carried out on Aug. 26 by 29 agencies across Kentucky.

Beshear said the 12-state human trafficking operation, led by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office and Missouri Highway Patrol, is believed to be the first multistate operation of its kind.

Kentucky conducted four operations simultaneously in Bowling Green, Elizabethtown, McCracken County and Northern Kentucky.

The governor’s office provided an updated list of charges including prostitution, drugs and human trafficking.

“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 in a news release. “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.”

According to Beshear, officials in participating states rescued a total of 59 victims, providing needed medical services to 41, and arrested 102 suspects across the country in connection with human trafficking.

Results from Operation United Front by state:

  • Missouri: Two arrests made, four victims rescued
  • Illinois: Three arrests made, one victim rescued
  • Iowa: Three arrests made, 10 victims rescued
  • Kentucky: 46 arrests made, 21 victims rescued (including two minor victims)
  • Minnesota: Three arrests made, eight victims rescued
  • Nebraska: Seven arrests made
  • North Dakota: Three arrests made, six victims rescued
  • Oklahoma: 13 arrests made, one victim rescued
  • Tennessee: Six arrests made, two victims rescued
  • Texas: Two arrests made, four victims rescued
  • Wisconsin: Five arrests made
  • South Dakota: Previously conducted a weeklong operation during the Sturgis Biker Rally, and arrested nine individuals.

In addition to KSP, several Kentucky agencies supported the commonwealth’s efforts in Operation United Front.

“Operation United Front was a success because of the hard work and dedication of all law enforcement professionals working together,” KSP Commissioner Phillip Burnett Jr. said in a news release “This sends a message to human traffickers across the country that their actions will not be tolerated. We will be vigilant in finding those who prey upon our most vulnerable, especially our children. While we as law enforcement are responsible for investigating the cases and arresting the individuals involved, there is a whole other dynamic to these cases and that is the care provided by the victim services community.”

Gov. Beshear said he has made fighting human trafficking a core mission during his time in elected office.

He said it is the job of every Kentuckian, American and every responsible adult to be able to do everything in their power to stop human trafficking and to do what it takes.

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