Earlier this week, federal agents local and Washington state police arrested 14 people suspected of forcing a staggering 72 people into prostitution, including five children.
According to the Spokesman-Review, all 72 victims were freed following "Operation Cross Country X" - the 10th sting since 2008,
"Victims and the pimps travel throughout eastern and western Washington to work and do not necessarily reside in the area where they were located this week," the FBI said about the sting.
The FBI reportedly used undercover agents to make contact with the sex slaves while they canvassed the areas frequented by the women and their pimps. Some of the freed women, according to KREM-TV, had been forced into slavery when they were just children.
The operation is a part of a wider initiative aimed to prosecute sex slavery that has spanned the United States and other countries including Cambodia, Canada, the Philippines and Thailand.
"Operation Cross Country aims to shine a spotlight into the darkest corners of our society that seeks to prey on the most vulnerable of our population," said FBI Director Comey, announcing the results of the operation during a press conference in San Diego. "We are not only looking to root out those who engage in the trafficking of minors, but through our Office for Victim Assistance, we offer a lifeline to minors to help them escape from a virtual prison no person ever deserves."
In a sobering statistic announced on NBC's "Today" show, it was revealed that every 30 seconds someone falls victim to sex trafficking. According to UNICEF, more than a million children are trafficked each year.
A faith-based film currently in theaters - "Priceless," a film featuring Grammy Award-winning band for KING & COUNTRY - is drawing awareness to this devastating issue, putting a spotlights on modern day slavery and human trafficking.
During an exclusive interview with The Gospel Herald, for KING & COUNTRY frontman Joel Smallbone, who stars as James in the film, said he hopes the film impresses upon viewers a simple but powerful message: You are absolutely priceless and worthwhile in the eyes of God.
"We wanted to bring to the American shores...the fact that there are more humans enslaved today than there ever have been in the history of the world," Joel said. "I hope men walk away with a deeper sense of a call to dignify the love of a woman, fighting for a woman while also protecting a woman and cherishing her and being committed to her and lifting her up."
He added, "On the other side of the aisle, this film really celebrates the impact a woman can have when she finds her self-worth not in her physicality or her identity towards any man, but her identity under God and who she is made to be. That woman is able to radically impact everyone around her including the man that she's connected."