A man arrested in San Diego during a nationwide sex trafficking sting has been charged by federal prosecutors with trafficking a 15-year-old girl.
The arrest was part of “Operation Cross Country,” which was conducted earlier this month by the FBI and local law enforcement agencies.
Officials said the sting led to the rescues of more than 200 sex trafficking victims, including 84 minors. The FBI’s San Diego office said at least 17 victims were located in the region, one of whom was underage.
According to a probable cause statement filed in San Diego federal court, the operation locally involved undercover officers in San Diego posing as customers responding to online advertisements offering prostitution.
One such ad included “multiple photographs of a young looking female,” according to the document.
An undercover officer arranged to meet the girl at a Mission Valley hotel on Aug. 10, where the teen was dropped off by a driver, later identified as Wesley Allen Neely, according to the statement. According to the FBI agent who authored the probable cause statement, a search of the girl’s cell phone revealed “messages that in my training and experience indicate that Neely was directing (the girl’s) commercial sex activities.”
Neely was arrested and charged with one count of sex trafficking of children, according to court records.
FBI officials said that nationwide, the average age of victims located during the operation was 15.5, while the youngest victim was 11 years old.
“Human trafficking is among the most heinous crimes the FBI encounters,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement. “Unfortunately, such crimes — against both adults and children — are far more common than most people realize.”