149 Exploited Kids Recovered, Over 150 Pimps Arrested in ‘Operation Cross Country’
In its ninth year, Operation Cross Country, the nationwide law enforcement operation in which the FBI, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) team up to recover sexually exploited children and go after pimps and other individuals.
At the conclusion of this year’s Operation, 149 sexually exploited children were recovered, and law enforcement arrested over 150 pimps and associates.
The Operation is part of the FBI’s Innocence Lost National Initiative. Since 2003, the Innocence Lost program has resulted in the identification and recovery of nearly 4,800 sexually exploited children, and over 2,000 convictions against pimps and others associated with child trafficking have been obtained.
“Our mission is to protect the American people—especially our children—from harm,” said FBI Director James Comey.” When kids are treated as a commodity in seedy hotels and on dark roadsides, we must rescue them from their nightmare and severely punish those responsible for that horror. We simply must continue to work with our partners to end the scourge of sex trafficking in our country.”
“Human trafficking is a monstrous and devastating crime that steals lives and degrades our nation,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “As a result of the FBI’s outstanding coordination and exemplary efforts alongside state and local partners during Operation Cross Country, more children will sleep safely tonight, and more wrongdoers will face the judgment of our criminal justice system.”
This year’s enforcement action was one of the largest to date, with coordination coming through 73 of the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Forces. Five hundred law enforcement officers from all levels of government engaged in sting operations in hotels, casinos, truck stops, and other areas in 135 cities.
The youngest recovered victim was 12 years old.
The FBI’s Office for Victim Assistance had nearly 100 victim specialists on the ground during the Operation to provide services to recovered young victims.
“From an investigative standpoint, Operation Cross Country targets the individuals and criminal enterprises responsible for the commercial sex trafficking of children,” said one of the Bureau’s victim specialists. “But our main goal is to provide support and services for these young victims—to help stabilize them and get them moving forward in a positive direction.”
“We are proud to partner with the FBI and provide support to both law enforcement and victim specialists in the field as they work to locate and recover survivors of child sex trafficking,” said Linda Krieg, NCMEC’s acting chief executive officer. “The number of children recovered and pimps arrested in this year’s operation highlights the importance of these efforts today and every day in protecting our children.”
Posted in The Takedown