The FBI worked in cooperation with local law enforcement agencies to arrest a total of 150 pimps and johns, and rescue a total of 149 exploited child sex workers in a countrywide sting operation last week. According to a report from the Huffington Post, the sting was named Operation Cross Country, and has been ongoing […]
The FBI worked in cooperation with local law enforcement agencies to arrest a total of 150 pimps and johns, and rescue a total of 149 exploited child sex workers in a countrywide sting operation last week. According to a report from the Huffington Post, the sting was named Operation Cross Country, and has been ongoing for the past nine years.
This year has been one of the most productive for officers working on Operation Cross Country, bagging more arrests and recovered victims than any previous year. The sting occurred in 135 American cities, and the FBI coordinated with 500 local law enforcement agencies to help return victims of sex trafficking to safety.
According to FBI director James Comey, “Our mission is to protect the American people, especially our children, from harm. 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 nation.”
Task forces in Denver, CO rescued the most children over the course of the sting, recovering 20 underage victims. The youngest victim rescued in this year’s operation was just 12 years old.
According to Staca Shehan, the executive director of case analysis at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, “Historically we’d see [the] majority of missing kids were being recruited in person and being sold in the real world, in hotels and at truck stops. While that all still occurs, pimps have adjusted their recruitment to social networking and online apps to approach children. What we’re seeing is an increase in the sale of children online.”
Traffickers tend to target only the most vulnerable children, many of who are runaways, victims of abuse or drug addiction, or part of the local child welfare system. Children are trafficked between cities without leaving a trace.
Operation Cross Country has been ongoing since 2003, and has recovered about 4,800 children and convicted 2,000 pimps in the process.