Article by Tim Brown, DC Clothesline
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Operation Cross Country has just completed its eleventh iteration and according to the FBI, they recovered 84 sexually exploited juveniles and arrested 120 traffickers.
According to the FBI’s website, “Operation Cross Country has expanded beyond the United States, with Canada, the United Kingdom, Cambodia, the Philippines, and Thailand undertaking similar operations. Their efforts were coordinated with the FBI and its local, state, and federal law enforcement partners—along with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)—during the four-day law enforcement action that ended October 15.”
Operation Cross Country 2017 involved 55 FBI field offices and 78 FBI-led Child Exploitation Task Forces composed of more than 500 law enforcement agencies. The sting operations were conducted in hotels, casinos, truck stops, and through social media sites frequented by pimps, prostitutes, and their customers.
More than 100 victim specialists provided on-scene services that included crisis intervention as well as resources for basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, and medical attention.
One of the highlights of the operation involved FBI Denver’s Rocky Mountain Innocence Lost Task Force. They recovered a 3-month-old girl and her five-year-old sister after a friend who was staying with the family made a deal with an undercover task force officer to sell both children for sex in exchange for $600.
“The threat of child sex trafficking is something the FBI works on every single day,” said Calvin Shivers, special agent in charge of the Denver Division. “Operation Cross Country gives us the opportunity to shine a light on this threat and to educate the public.” He added that while the focused law enforcement action has “an immediate impact” of recovering a significant number of juvenile victims, “we recognize that there is a lot more work to be done to identify and recover even more victims.”
The FBI formed the Innocence Lost National Initiative in 2003. Since its creation, the program has resulted in the identification and recovery of more than 6,500 children from child sex trafficking and the prosecution of countless traffickers, more than 30 of whom have received life sentences for their crimes.
“We at the FBI have no greater mission than to protect our nation’s children from harm,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “Unfortunately, the number of traffickers arrested—and the number of children recovered—reinforces why we need to continue to do this important work.”
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