TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – An undercover operation in Kansas and Missouri netted 32 individuals who have been taken into custody for crimes against children.
Multiple agencies, including Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Kansas City Child Exploitation Taskforce (KCCET), were involved in an undercover operation in and around Wichita from May 17 through June 2.
From May 17 through May 19, HSI Wichita and the Wichita Police Department targeted adults that would travel for the sexual exploitation of children, according to Tanya Román with the U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That operation led to the arrest of 17 individuals for crimes including aggravated human trafficking, promoting the sale of sex and the purchase of commercial sex acts.
The second part of the operation, dubbed Blue Ghost, took place from May 31 through June 2 and conducted operations in Independence, Missouri, Clay County, Missouri and Platte County, Missouri.
Working with the HSI Kansas City, Clay County Sheriff’s Office, Platte County Sheriff’s Office, Independence Police Department, Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Bourbon County Kansas Sheriff’s Office, undercover operations looked for adults willing to travel for the sexual exploitation of children. The later phase resulted in the arrest of 15 individuals.
“I’m extremely proud of all of the special agents, analysts, and officers whose hard work and dedication made this operation a success,” acting Special Agent in Charge of the Kansas City area of operations R. Sean Fitzgerald said. “Our joint commitment to protecting children has removed these 32 dangerous individuals from our streets and hopefully sends a clear message to others looking to harm children.”
Those arrested are facing multiple charges including intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, enticement of a minor, sexual trafficking of a child, furnishing pornographic material to minors, sexual exploitation of a minor, promoting prostitution, aggravated human trafficking, sex trafficking, obscenity and morals offenses, felony assault on a law enforcement officer, felony evading, felony property damage, attempted statutory sodomy and attempted statutory rape 2nd degree.
Román said the agency’s top priority includes identifying and rescuing child victims, apprehending offenders, preventing abuse and working to make the internet safer for children.