FBI special agents and local law enforcement officers rescued 79 minors and arrested 104 pimps in a nationwide sex-slavery crackdown.
Operation Cross Country, a three-day operation, targeted underage prostitution. It was the sixth time the FBI led Operation Cross Country, which is part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative that was created in 2003 by the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division, in partnership with the Department of Justice and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), to address the growing problem of domestic child sex trafficking in the United States.
Task force operations usually begin as local enforcement actions targeting such places as truck stops, casinos, street "tracks," and the Internet, 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 often uncovers organized efforts to prostitute women and children across many states. FBI agents further develop this information in partnership with U.S. Attorney's Offices and the U.S. Department of Justice's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and file federal charges where appropriate.
More than 8,500 local, state, and federal law enforcement officers and agents representing 414 separate agencies participated in Operation Cross Country and ongoing enforcement efforts.
The San Diego Innocence Lost Task Force (SDILTF) coordinated efforts in San Diego County. This multi-agency task force is comprised of detectives, officers, and agents from the San Diego Police Department, Oceanside Police Department, San Diego Sheriff’s Department, Escondido Police Department, and the FBI. SDILTF is part of the Innocence Lost National Initiative that brings state and federal law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and social service providers from across the country to NCMEC, where the groups train together.
To date, the 47 Innocence Lost Task Forces and Working Groups have recovered more than 2,200 children from the streets. The investigations and subsequent 1,017 convictions have resulted in lengthy sentences, including eight life terms and the seizure of more than $3.1 million in assets.
Other agencies involved in the San Diego operation are as follows: San Diego Harbor Police Department, Chula Vista Police Department, Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Immigration Custom Enforcement (ICE), and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The North County Prostitution/Human Trafficking Task Force also devoted significant resources which contributed to the success of the San Diego operation.
"Once again, thanks to decade-long FBI leadership, it is clear that child prostitution and sex trafficking do not just occur somewhere else on the other side of the world. These insidious crimes are occurring in American cities and the victims are American kids," said Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
The following list denotes FBI divisions—not necessarily actual cities—where juveniles were recovered and pimps arrested.
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To learn more about Operation Cross Country and the Innocence Lost National Initiative, visit www.fbi.gov, www.justice.gov, or www.ncmec.org.