By Karen Morfitt
DENVER (CBS4)– The FBI has recovered a three-month-old baby and a five-year-old in Denver during a nationwide child sex trafficking investigation.
The investigation dubbed “Operation Cross Country” includes Denver along with several cities across the U.S.
Arapahoe County investigator Daniel Steel was among those involved in the operation locally.
“We go out in an undercover capacity, and we try to make contact with youth whether as a customer sex buyer or trafficker even,” Steele said.
Three days ago, a suspect offered an undercover officer $600 in exchange for access to two children for sex. That male suspect was arrested and the children rescued.
In video released by the FBI, a child’s blanket and stuffed animal can be seen on the floor of the location of one of the busts.
The investigation included online ads that undercover officers would respond to. The locations typically included hotels, casinos and street corners.
Approximately 84 minors were recovered and 120 traffickers were arrested as part of the sting.
A female from Russia was among those victims the FBI agents encountered in Denver.
FBI Director Christopher Wray says that the agency is not only trying to take traffickers off the streets, but to help the victims get out of the cycle of abuse.
“If you want to stop all this, stop what you’re doing, stop this work, you can call that and they can do that for you. They can help you stay in the United States or go back home to family,” said one FBI agent.
At a news conference on Wednesday afternoon, FBI and local officials detailed the “Innocence Lost Task Force Operation.”
Seventeen children in Colorado were rescued during the operation.
Arapahoe County District attorney George Brauchler was among the local officials who spoke about the operations.
“It’s not just that someone is willing to sell someone, it’s that there are buyers out there who are willing to engage in this,” he said.
Investigators also arrested four pimps and 18 predators attempting to pay for sex with children.
Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Denver, Todd Pooler, says this is just the beginning.
“If you are a sexual predator or are sexually exploiting children, the FBI and law enforcement partners will find you, you can count on it,” Pooler said.
Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.