168 juveniles rescued in child sex trafficking bust, Phoenix top spot for pimps

human-trafficking-400During the past week, the FBI, its local, state, and federal law enforcement partners, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) conducted Operation Cross Country VIII.

The top five FBI offices that recovered children (k) and arrested pimps(p) were Denver 18 (k) and 11 (p), Cleveland 16(k) and 12(p), Los angeles 10 (k) and 12(p), Atlanta 11(k) and 15(p) and Milwaukee 6(k) and 12(p). The city with the leading number of pimps arrested was Phoenix with 21 and only 5 children recovered.

On the other end of the spectrum, three FBI offices; Albany NY, Albuquerque, NM and Boston, MA recovered no children and arrested no pimps.

The week-long enforcement action addressed commercial child sex trafficking throughout the United States, and included enforcement actions in 106 cities and resulted in 168 recoveries of children who were being victimized through prostitution.

Additionally, 281 pimps were arrested on state and federal charges.

Operation Cross Country is part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative that was established in 2003 by the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, in partnership with the Department of Justice and NCMEC, to address the growing problem of child prostitution.

To date, the FBI and its task force partners have recovered nearly 3,600 children from the streets. The investigations and subsequent 1,450 convictions have resulted in lengthy sentences, including 14 life terms and the seizure of more than $3.1 million in assets.

Task force operations usually begin as local enforcement actions that target truck stops, casinos, street “tracks,” and websites that advertise dating or escort services, based on intelligence gathered by officers working in their respective jurisdictions. Initial arrests are often violations of local and state laws relating to prostitution or solicitation. Information gleaned from those arrested frequently uncovers organized efforts to prostitute women and children across many states. FBI agents further develop this evidence in partnership with U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section so that prosecutors can help bring federal charges in those cities where child prostitution occurs.

The Innocence Lost National Initiative partners with NCMEC to provide training for state and federal law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and social service providers from across the country.