(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Multiple departments of law enforcement came together to conduct a human trafficking rescue operation in St. Joseph late Friday night into Saturday morning.
The effort was spearheaded by Missouri's attorney general Eric Schmitt.
St. Joseph police, along with the Buchanan County Sheriff's Office and the Missouri State Highway Patrol collaborated in the operation, which took place at both the Love's Truck Stop and the Bucky's Travel Plaza near Interstate 29.
Eight victims, including five females, one male, and two children, including an infant, were rescued. Three people were arrested, and another arrest is currently pending.
"We’ve known for a long time that truck stops can be a place where human trafficking does take place," Schmitt said.
Schmitt says it's an issue he’s passionately working to stop in the Show-Me state.
"It’s a dark underworld that really exploits victims," Schmitt said. "It robs them of their dignity and their humanity."
Schmitt added that human trafficking is not a new problem, he pointed to the state's location as a factor that makes Missouri a desirable location for the crime.
"Because of our location which is a huge advantage for us from an economic perspective as a distribution hub, we get more than our fair share of human trafficking." He said.
This is not the first operation Schmitt has been a part of, he says cooperation with multiple departments of law enforcement is key to their success.
He hopes other states can lead by his example.
"Everybody’s pulling together understanding how serious of a problem this is and really making Missouri a leader in cracking down on human trafficking," Schmitt said.