Oct. 19 (UPI) -- The FBI rescued 84 children and arrested 120 sex traffickers this month in a nationwide effort called Operation Cross Country XI.
This is the 11th annual Cross Country operation, which involved 55 FBI field offices and 78 state and local law enforcement task forces. The mission is part of the FBI's Innocence Lost National Initiative, which began in 2003 and has rescued more than 6,500 children.
Several international partners assisted this year, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines.
"We at the FBI have no greater mission than to protect our nation's children from harm. Unfortunately, the number of traffickers arrested -- and the number of children recovered -- reinforces why we need to continue to do this important work," FBI Director Christopher Wray said Wednesday in an FBI press release.
The operation involved bringing FBI agents and local task forces to a variety of locations such as casinos, truck stops and hotels.
"A 3-month-old girl and her 5-year-old sister were recovered after a friend who was staying with the family made a deal with an undercover task force officer to sell both children for sex in exchange for $600," the FBI said.
The average age of the victims was 15.
"This operation isn't just about taking traffickers off the street," Wray said. "It's about making sure we offer help and a way out to these young victims who find themselves caught in a vicious cycle of abuse."