INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Twenty-two people have been arrested as a result of a human trafficking sting operation that took place April 25-26. 

The operation initiated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Kansas City focused on “identifying and rescuing victims who were being trafficked for sexual exploitation”. 

During the operation undercover officers from HSI and the Independence Police Department posed as sex buyers and used social media to chat with the suspects.  

Officers then arrested the suspects when they arrived at a pre-arranged meeting place. Two trafficking victims were also rescued as a result of the operation.

“When individuals think of human trafficking, it often conjures up images of popular Hollywood movies that usually take place overseas, but in actuality this crime is happening right here in the Heartland,” HSI Special Agent in Charge Taekuk Cho said in a release. “That’s why educating the community on what human trafficking looks like, the efforts HSI and our law enforcement partners are making to eradicate the crime, and how to report it is so vitally important.”

Community members can report crimes, suspicious activity and suspected human trafficking to the HSI Tipline at 866-347-2423.