The FBI, in partnership with state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), just concluded Operation Cross Country – “a three-day nationwide enforcement action focusing on underage victims of prostitution.”
According to a July 29 release from the FBI, Operation Cross Country resulted in the arrests of 150 pimps and other individuals, and, the successful recovery of 105 sexually exploited children.
The sweep took place in 76 cities throughout the U.S. and was the FBI’s “seventh and largest such enforcement action to date.”
“Operation Cross Country demonstrates just how many of America’s children are being sold for sex every day, many on the Internet,” said John Ryan, NCMEC CEO. “
We are honored and proud to partner with the FBI, which has taken the lead in tackling this escalating problem.”
“Child prostitution remains a persistent threat to children across America,” said Ron Hosko, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division.
“This operation serves as a reminder that these abhorrent crimes can happen anywhere and that the FBI remains committed to stopping this cycle of victimization and holding the criminals who profit from this exploitation accountable.”
Since its creation in 2003, the Innocence Lost National Initiative has resulted in the identification and recovery of more than 2,700 children who have been sexually exploited.
USA Today reported that, “the largest number of children — 12 — was recovered in San Francisco during the weekend sweep. The most alleged pimps –18 — were arrested in Detroit.”
The FBI wants to remind us that there are real stories about real victims associated with the child sex trade.
One such victim was 15-year-old Alex, who after experiencing problems living at home moved in with a boyfriend who wanted to pimp her out.
At 16 and feeling desperate, Alex turned to prostitution as a last resort, and eventually fell prey to a pimp. Trafficked sexually as a teen for two years, she ultimately turned to the FBI for help.
Today, with support from the Bureau’s Office for Victim Assistance, Alex is turning her life around. She earned her high school diploma, is living on her own, and has plans to attend college. She wants to become an advocate for young victims of sexual exploitation.
You can hear and see Alex tell more of her story on video.
For more on the FBI’s Operation Cross Country and the recovery of those 105 sexually exploited children, see the video accompanying this article.
Cover photo: Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, Ron Hosko, discusses results of Operation Cross Country at FBI headquarters on July 29.
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