Troopers arrest nine during human trafficking investigation


Washington State Patrol, in partnership with the Federal Way Police Department, arrested nine people during “Operation Human Freight” this week. This is the third law enforcement operation of this kind this year. During the one-day operation at the Federal Way rest area along Interstate 5, undercover detectives rescued people caught up in human trafficking and prostitution, offered them resources and, advocacy assistance.

“The Washington State Patrol and many stakeholders recognize the crime issues that exist at the Federal Way rest area and are working tirelessly to discourage the criminal behavior, said WSP District 2 Commander, Captain Ron Mead. “This was one example of a collaborative approach to policing and the mutual sharing of assets and ideas to make an impact on our communities.”

During the evening of Sept. 18, detective’s set-up at the Federal Way rest area because it is a high-traffic area, the number of complaints about criminal activity at the location, and safety concerns raised by the citizens who visit this rest area. Officers searched for both suspects promoting prostitution and victims of human trafficking. Within four hours, officers located nine women offering sex to our undercover detectives. They were arrested and brought to a local police station where they met with an advocate who emphasized their safety and their well-being.

The goal of the operation was to rescue young girls caught up in the cycle of prostitution and human trafficking. Advocates from the FBI were on-scene to provide food, water, services, and contact information for all victims. Other non-government organizations provided the WSP with backpacks containing blankets, food, water, and resources information.

Detectives will continue their investigations into these crimes, which could result in additional arrests and criminal charges.

The operation was the third of its kind in the state and involved a joint effort between agencies from around Puget Sound, including Federal Way and Lakewood. It was made possible because of the generosity and partnership with Truckers Against Trafficking (T.A.T.) and Trailer Services of Aberdeen.


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