A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Beshear announces multistate human trafficking sting resulting in rescue of 21 victims, 46 arrests

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

A multistate human trafficking sting called Operation United Front, which included 29 law enforcement agencies in Kentucky; rescued 21 victims, including two minors, and yielded 46 arrests, Gov. Andy Beshear announced on Wednesday.

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.

In Kentucky, there were four trafficking operations conducted simultaneously: in Bowling Green, Elizabethtown, McCracken County and Northern Kentucky. The Kentucky State Police organized and led the state’s effort.

Gov. Andy Beshear said Kentucky was part of a multi-state human trafficking sting. (Governor’s Office photo)

“Operation United Front is a great example of creating a better and safer Kentucky, one that is free of this hideous crime,” said Gov. Beshear. “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.”

He noted a lot of organizations are providing help to the victims. “15 years ago, you would not have seen an operation like this, so victim-centered and ready to provide the services the moment that victim is identified and can be helped. We will not back down until we ensure that all victims are given a voice and the offenders are held accountable.”

Law enforcement in the 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. Each state conducted its own operation simultaneously while sharing information with law enforcement officials in Missouri.

“This sends a message to human traffickers across the country that their actions will not be tolerated,” said KSP Commissioner Phillip Burnett, Jr. “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.”

Attorney General Daniel Cameron noted, “Every arrest made leads to one less trafficker on our streets and sends a message that we will not allow any person to exploit another through labor and sex trafficking. I’m incredibly grateful for the collaboration and for the partnerships exhibited throughout this operation, and I extend my sincere thanks to law enforcement across Kentucky who worked tirelessly to carry out Operation United Front.”

Earlier this year, Cameron launched the program “Your Eyes Save Lives,” to encourage Kentuckians to report suspected cases of human trafficking. You can learn more about the campaign by visiting YourEyesSaveLives.ky.gov.

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