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'Traffickers don't discriminate': Advocates say San Antonio remains a hotspot for exploitation of children

Three were recently saved this month as part of a national FBI operation.

SAN ANTONIO — Three of the 84 child victims rescued in a national operation to bust sex trafficking crimes this month were found in the San Antonio area, according to the FBI. 

The bureau says 225 victims in all were found being exploited during "Operation Cross Country," the youngest of which was 11. 

The FBI teamed up with other law enforcement agencies for the operation. They wouldn't, however, specify where the three victims in the San Antonio/Austin region were found, nor did they provide their ages beyond saying they were adolescents. 

"Unfortunately, such crimes against both adults and children are far more common than most people realize," FBI Director Christopher Wray is quoted as saying in the release. 

Thirty-seven of the 84 children recovered were actively missing children, the DOJ said. Three of the victims were found in Houston. 

No other details about Texas cities were released. 

But advocates say human trafficking remains a crisis in the Lone Star State, and emphasize the importance of contacting authorities if you notice something suspicious. 

In the Alamo City, Ransomed Life works to empower exploited youth through mentoring and counseling. 

"Children are being sold in our city," said April Molina, communications director with Ransomed Life. "That is the reality."

She commended the work of the FBI in helping to save dozens of victims this month. 

"I was not surprised by the numbers," she added. "This is critically important work, and we are really happy to see that."

Molina provided the below map of San Antonio which highlights the children they served, including where they were exploited or trafficked.

"It shows that they are everywhere, in every corner of the city," Molina said.

She said trafficking is no longer an issue limited to kids who run away from home.

"There is a risk of being trafficked for all kids who are on a phone, iPad or computer," she said. "Traffickers don't discriminate, and phones make it very easy for them to access our kids."

Molina, citing a local law enforcement agency, said the average age for victims in the San Antonio area is between 11 and 13, adding traffickers aim to seduce and control. 

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